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DB Michael Holland III Reflects on Arena Football League Team’s Collapse and His Quest for CFL Opportunities

Michael Holland III is a defensive back who was recently preparing to play in the recently resurrected Arena Football League for the Philadelphia Soul. Unfortunately, the stability in the AFL during its relaunch was lacking and the Soul are no longer an active team. He continues to stay ready in the event an opportunity presents itself elsewhere, particularly hoping for the CFL.

Holland is a highly mobile defensive back with great athleticism. Recently he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash which is faster than every player in the 2024 CFL draft class. The fastest 40-time out of every prospect in the most recent CFL draft class was 4.51 seconds. He has also recently performed a 40-inch standing vertical.

Staying Ready Amid Pursuit of CFL Opportunities

Despite the disappointment with the Arena Football League, Holland continues to stay ready and take care of his body. He has a monthly meeting with a mobility specialist. He is also working with a trainer possessing advanced analytical technology to help identify areas and specific muscles in his body to target for improvement.

“I’ve been training, keeping my hips, that’s really the most important thing I’ve been working on, my posterior change. If you don’t know or if anyone else doesn’t know. It’s like your upper back, you’re lower back, your glutes, upper hammies, lower hammies, upper calves, lower calves, ankles, toes. And my inner groin and my hips. That’s really the main thing I’ve been working on. Doing a lot of mobility like strengthening and lengthening. Obviously lifting weights. Doing my speed work. My DB work too. And watching film.”

Holland spoke of successful NFL defensive backs he watches when he watches film such as Darrell Green who played for the Washington Redskins from 1983 to 2002 and is now in the hall of fame. He also mentioned other players such as Darrell Reavis and Richard Sherman as a couple examples of other players he will watch to possibly gain insight to on possible ways to add to his own game.

“At the end of every month, I see him [mobility specialist] so he can see the progress of my body, where I’m at, and areas I need to work on to get more flexible, more mobile. So that’s most important because if you’re not available you can’t play. The best ability is availability so you need to be available. Cause guys get injured a lot and they’re gonna call whoever is available. So if you’re injured and this guy is not injured they’re gonna get him and they’ll release you.”

As part of his training regiment, Holland also meets with players from local college teams every weekend to practice against collegiate receivers to stay ready.

“I usually go against college guys. D1, D2, D3. I go against a lot of taller receivers, 6’3, 6’4. These guys run great routes. Not the fastest, but they are smooth athletes and technicians. That’s the type of guys that I go against every Saturday. We’ll usually be out there for about 45 minutes in the heat.”

When asked where he would feel most comfortable in a CFL secondary whether it be cornerback, halfback, or safety, Holland stated that he is comfortable at any secondary position. 

Reflecting on the Collapse of the Philadelphia Soul

“My agent is currently talking to some CFL teams. We’re trying to see if we can get in where we fit in. I was with the Philadelphia Soul but they folded.” Holland said. “They got us one-way flights to Louisianna Voodoo. We were all confused, like why’d we have 1-way flights, so how are we gonna get back? And then the pay, we were supposed to get paid a thousand a game. I guess the thousand was too much, but that’s what they promised.”

“We practiced for 2 weeks in camp with no pads. Just shorts and shirt and cleats. Everyone else had pads, Billings had pads, like every other AFL team had pads. Shoulder pads, helmet, you know pants, whatever they already had that. We didn’t even have jerseys. So we would have went down there with no jerseys how are we gonna play? It was a lot going on. We had a great team though. Great competition in the DB group, great competitions in the receivers, o-line d-line, quarterbacks, everyone was competing.”

“Coach Patrick Pimmel, he was a great head coach. Ran it like an NFL style. He was ready to cut people the first day. He’s a real head coach, he’s really strict. He really wants to win and he just wants the best players. And he did a lot for his players. He definitely did a lot.” Holland spoke of Soul head coach Patrick Pimmel. “And he had to leave too ’cause it’s just too much for him and he’s away from his kid and his wife. And he’s doing stuff that the head coach shouldn’t be doing, like that’s the owners’ job, and trying to be the coach it was too much. Like in practice, he would be in practice for like 10 minutes and then he would have to go to a meeting and then he would come out of that meeting and come see the rest of the practice and right after practice, he would have another meeting. And after practice we always have our individual group meetings, like DB groups go with DBs. And he would be there for a little bit and then he would have to go to another owner meeting. The owners were telling him 1 thing, but they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

“The day we were supposed to leave for the game it was Saturday. The hotel kicked everybody out of the hotel. I drove over there and I see all my teammates, they’re outside. They were like ‘oh they kicked us out and they told us we can’t grab our stuff’. So I’m like why? They said basically they told the guys to get out and leave your stuff here. So come to find out the owner owes the hotel 25 thousand. So basically you’re not getting your stuff until we get our 25 thousand. But the teammates got nothing to do with that. We’re not supposed to be getting money and sending you money. That’s the owner’s job we’re just here to play football. So it was just a lot. Like that right there I knew, I ain’t messing with that. Stuff like that you can’t mess with. They’re trying to come back in 2025 but who wants to come back to that? I don’t want to bash them but it’s hard. It’s stressful for us players who left families, left their jobs, and came into this. It’s professional football, not everybody gets to do this and we love what we do. It was just hard. I don’t blame the coaches, I loved the coaches. I don’t blame the GM. It’s just, I don’t know what’s going on with the ownership.”

Michael Holland III was hopeful to use the AFL opportunity as a chance to showcase his abilities and advance to higher levels beyond that such as the CFL or the UFL. He remains positive despite the letdown of what happened with the Soul. He continues to stay ready and looks forward to the next opportunity.

Michael Holland III; Overcoming Injury: CFL/UFL Free Agent Defensive Back Profile

Arena Football League Return Marred by a Multitude of Failed Promises

Michael Holland III on Twitter

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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