Guard Dog returns

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Nobody in the world can blame Kenny Hollis for returning to the Edmonton Eskimos.

The import defensive line-man is back with the Green and Gold after being released on July 23.

The personable Alabama native gave up a bigger paycheque to come back to a team that cut him after two regular season games this summer.

But here is the catch: he was working as a security guard in an Alabama prison.

"It is the worst prison in Alabama," said Hollis.

"It is Level 6 - that means out of all the prisons in Alabama the worst inmates come to our prison.

"I am a security guard (at the prison).

"(I) watch the inmates, make sure they are doing good, taking medication, no fights, no stabbings, no killing."

So, it's easy to see why he has left Donaldson prison outside of Birmingham to battle on the football field - even though the Esks clearly felt he wasn't good enough last month to crack their roster.

"I love football. I love the game. And I love the Eskimos," said Hollis.

"I always come back for the opportunity."

And there is definitely an opportunity to be had on a banged-up Eskimo squad.

In fact, Hollis could definitely play on special teams on Saturday night in Regina when the Esks battle the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"He understands what we are doing defensively," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.

"He also understands what we are doing on (special) teams."

It turns out that Maciocia had put the bug in Hollis's ears about returning to the club from the moment he cut him last month - when the club was a lot healthier and was needing to trim bodies.

"I did mention to him (Hollis) to keep working and stay in shape because it wouldn't surprise me in the next few weeks we will give you a ring," recalled Maciocia when he released him.

"It really had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't think he was able to play here."

Called Guard Dog by his teammates because of his prison background, Hollis got the call on Monday night from the Esks when it became crystal clear that they were operating a MASH unit.

Edmonton could be missing several starters for Saturday's game.

Hollis also gives Edmonton the luxury of having one player that can back up on defensive line and at linebacker.

So the life of working with some of the continent's worst criminals is on hold for the moment.

Even the training requirements for that security job were nasty.

In the academy he had mace sprayed on him.

"It basically feels like your face is on fire and basically you can't put water on it - just let it burn itself out," said Hollis.

In the training drill he then had to put handcuffs on, hit a dummy and take a guy down with the mace burning his face.

"My first day I was scared to death," remembered the 24-year-old on life on the inside of the jail.

"But as you get to talk to them (the inmates) and communicate with them, they are just like everybody else."

Still, football is a lot more enjoyable.


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