Washington Redskins head coach, Mike Shanahan continues to hold true his promise to provide competition in Ashburn. The team has announced that it recently signed four new players: free agent Vonnie Holliday, and college free agents Brandon Banks, Shay Hodge and Melvin Stephenson.
Two of the players are defensive – Vonnie Holliday is a defensive lineman and Melvin Stephenson is a cornerback.
Brandon Banks and Shay Hodge are both receivers, while Banks has also served as a return specialist.
Holliday played in 2009 with the Denver Broncos, starting 3 games but playing in all 16. He registered 33 tackles – 5 for losses, plus 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
The 6’5”, 285 lbs. lineman joined Denver from Miami. He was a Dolphin for 4 years where he was a regular starter in 59 of 60 games. 2003 and 2004 were spent with the Kansas City Chiefs and he joined the Chiefs from his first team, the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers drafted Holliday in the first round – 19th overall – in the 1998 NFL Draft out of the University of North Carolina.
The former Tar Heel had a productive rookie year. He was named to the All-Rookie Team after playing/starting in 12 games and registering 8 sacks.
Every season of the five with Green Bay, the lineman had at least 5 sacks. During his entire time as a Packer, Holliday played in 66 games, with 63 starts, and recorded 32 sacks.
A native of Camden, S.C., Holliday earned letters all four years at UNC. He appeared in 46 games with 28 starts and, as a senior, was a first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer.
Two of the three additional signees in Ashburn were wide receivers Brandon Banks and Shay Hodge, both of whom are college free agents and both of whom had been in Ashburn since the 2nd mini-camp trying out.
Banks, also a productive return specialist in college, spent the last two years at Kansas State University after transferring from Bakersfield College in California.
While the 5’ 7’, 150lb. former Wildcat was productive also as a receiver, catching 56 passes for 705 yards, he might benefit the Redskins the most with his return skills.
According the Redskins announcement, as a senior, the Kansas State graduate tied for the nation’s lead in kickoff returns for touchdowns with 4, while ranking fifth in kickoff return yards with 1,127. Banks ranked 12th in the country returning kick-offs, averaging 28.9 yards per carry on 39 returns. His 9.1 yards per punt return ranked 35th in the country. Banks was named Big XII Special Teams Player of the Year, first-team All-Big XII kickoff returner/punt returner and second-team All-Big XII wide receiver.
Other notable football achievements were being named the Big XII Newcomer of the Year and an honorable mention selection as a wide receiver and punt / kickoff returner in 2008. His 28.0 yards per kickoff return ranked 19th in the nation. His pass reception yards at 87.4 per game ranked 19th as well.
Shay Hodge, out of University of Mississippi, set some notable records at the school during his 4-year career there. The former Rebel became the all-time leading receiver there with 2,646 receiving yards. His 173 catches and 22 touchdowns (receiving) are 2nd in school history. The 6’2”, 207lb. wide out also is tied for 2nd with his six 100-yard reception games.
Production was never an issue for Hodges. He was noticed by the Associated Press in his 2009 senior season with SEC honors. He led the conference with 5.4 receptions and 87.3 receiving yards per game, as well as leading the team with 8 receiving touchdowns.
In his 2008 junior season, the talented young receiver tied for the SEC lead with his 8 touchdown catches, finished sixth with 16.5 yards per catch, eighth in with 55.8 receiving yards per game and eighth with 3.4 receptions per game.
The final signer, Melvin Stephenson, who attended the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP), started all 12 games in 2009 at cornerback. He logged 58 tackles including 1 for a loss, 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended and 1 forced fumble.
Before his senior year, the former Miner played in 35 games, starting 11 and registered 70 tackles including 1.5 for a loss, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended 1 fumble recovery.
Vinnie Holliday, born Dec. 11, 1975, will wear No. 78
Brandon Banks, born Dec. 21, 1987, attended high school in N.C., and will wear No. 16.
Shay Hodge, born Oc. 18, 1987, attended high school in Mississippi, and will wear No. 80.
Melvin Stephenson, born Jul. 6, 1988, attended high school in Texas, and will wear No. 36R.