Jan. 22, 2008
While most Yale students were traveling back to New Haven to prepare for Monday classes after the long holiday break, senior football captain Brandt Hollander was competing in the nationally televised Jan. 12 Hula Bowl All-Star Classic at 60,000-seat Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hollander, a two-time first-team All-Ivy pick who earned honorable mention All-America honors this season, played on the defensive line for the East (white) in a 38-7 win over the West. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound nose guard from Indianapolis, Ind., who wore No. 61 in the classic, was the first Yale player to be invited to the Hula Bowl.
"It was a great experience to be around these players. It was exciting to have the opportunity to compete at such a high level," said Hollander. "I learned how similar people are in talent level, and that it takes hard work and good luck to separate yourself from the pack.
There were 100 players at the 62nd Hula Bowl with scouts from almost every NFL and CFL team evaluating the practices and the game.
"We had two hard practices. They were similar to Yale practices, and we ran through 1-on-1 and 7-on-9 drills with a few full thud team periods to install the plays. The game was laid back, and my linemates and I rotated every other series," said Hollander. The Bulldog star played half of the defensive snaps for the East, which wasn't many because the West squad struggled on offense.
"Our team was so dominant, the defense was hardly on the field. The game was a real adjustment for everyone because no one was used to being on the bench."
Hollander and his family enjoyed six days in paradise and had plenty of new experiences.
"As I was running out of the tunnel before the game there were four twin-prop helicopters doing a fly-over. As I ran down my sideline, I saw Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens' LB) standing near the end zone. I went over to him and shook his hand before the game started."