September 16, 2009 8:18:00 AM
University of North Texas football coach Todd Dodge doesn''t mind going after Mississippi junior college talent.
Dodge intends to do plenty of more recruiting there if it means his program will get players like senior offensive guard Gabe Hollivay, who was a standout at Hamilton High School, and junior wide receiver Michael Outlaw, of Starkville.
Hollivay transferred from Itawamba Community College, while Outlaw transferred from East Mississippi C.C.
After the Mean Green only won one game last season, Hollivay said there''s only one way to point his focus.
"I just want to help the team gets some wins and hopefully win a championship," said Hollivay, whose team will take on the University of Alabama on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"I''m excited about that because it will be the first time I''ll get to play that close to home," Hollivay said. "I''m going to have a lot of family and friends at the game."
Hollivay started all 12 games at guard for North Texas last season but has yet to start this season. Kelvin Drake, who was injured last year, got the nod coming out of training camp. Hollivay is the backup at both guard positions.
"I''m trying to be ready in case anyone gets hurt, and I''m looking to get more playing time this week," Hollivay said. "I''m ready to step in."
Just because Drake is starting doesn''t mean Dodge has lost faith in Hollivay.
Dodge said Hollivay is an important part of an offensive line that has a combined 100 starts.
"He''s done a fabulous job, and I have all the confidence in the world in him," Dodge said. "He''s a big powerful man and is a person of high character. He did some really big things for us last year and just adds to what is the strength of our football team."
The 6-foot-3, 328-pound Hollivay blocked for a Mean Green offense that rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season.
Hollivay knows a guard plays a big role in the running game.
"It''s a big responsibility because you are usually running off the guards," Hollivay said.
Hollivay was named a first-team National Junior College All-American at ICC and formed a friendship with Mississippi State quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus.
"I love Gabe," Lee said. "He''s an unbelievable person. He''s a quiet person, but the first time I met him was in Wal-Mart in Columbus and we said we''d be playing together. I thought he was going to be this big, hard-nosed guy, but when we got to ICC we became great friends."
Hollivay hopes to make enough of an impression in a reserve role to impress professional scouts. His dream is to play in the NFL
"If the opportunity was there I would love to," Hollivay said.
Outlaw would also like to play at the next level and has gotten off to a good start at North Texas. Coaches told him he would have a chance to make an impact on offense.
In two games, Outlaw has a team-high nine catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. His goal is 80 catches and 1,000 yards.
Outlaw believes being involved with the spread offense can help him reach those totals.
"It''s a good fit for me," Outlaw said. "Anytime you''re throwing the ball, I''m going to try and catch it."
Outlaw was 12th in the nation in receptions (46) and had 624 yards at EMCC. Despite his success at the junior college level, he said he had to adjust to Division I-A competition.
"The game speed is a little faster and the competition level is a little higher," Outlaw said. "I''m just continuing to practice hard and I''m getting better coaching."
At Starkville High, Outlaw had 51 catches for 796 yards and five touchdowns as a junior and 56 catches for 816 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
Dodge believes he snatched a quality player from Mississippi State''s backyard.
"We feel very fortunate to get a guy of his caliber," Dodge said. "He had a great sophomore year at East Mississippi. He fits our offense, and he''s working as an outside guy. He''s only going to get better because he''s a good runner and is also a good deep threat."
Outlaw will return to Starkville on Thursday to attend the funeral of his grandmother. He will rejoin the team for the trip to Alabama.