To move forward, Jacob Hollister had to let go.

At Wyoming, the staples of his childhood are nowhere to be found. The converted tight end grew up in Bend, Ore., with his twin brother, Cody, at his side. Jacob was the star quarterback, and Cody was the star receiver. It wasn't by accident. Like a carefully constructed puzzle, the pieces fit.

The Hollister boys reached the prep mountain top -- together. As seniors at Mountain View High School in 2011, they won the Oregon Class 5A State Championship. Jacob passed for 1,860 yards and 32 touchdowns with only three interceptions, and Cody caught 64 passes for 1,038 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Jacob was named the Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year. The "Hollister to Hollister connection" was prime newspaper fodder, twin brothers done good. It felt right. The pieces fit.

“It was pretty awesome, especially winning the state title," Jacob Hollister said. "That was a really good experience for us. That was really nice, especially to win that with my brother.”

After being relatively under-recruited, both Jacob and Cody decided to walk on at Nevada, take a redshirt their first semester, then transfer to a junior college where they could earn another shot at a Division I scholarship. That's exactly what they did.

The Hollisters traveled from Oregon to Reno, Nev. -- together. Then, they picked up and transferred to Arizona Western Community College -- together.

But to hold on to his Division I dream, Jacob Hollister had to part ways with the "Hollister to Hollister connection." The 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete became a pass-catcher, just like Cody.

“It was kind of tough, because growing up and playing quarterback your whole life, it’s hard to get out of that mindset," Hollister said. "But then you have to look forward to, ‘What position can I take the furthest? What position do I have the best opportunity at?’

"I thought that was tight end.”

In their only season at Arizona Western, Cody became a first-team all-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference selection and led his team with 69 receptions for 934 yards and five touchdowns. While grasping a new position, Jacob added 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in 12 games.

Even though both held Division I futures, the Hollisters were coming to a fork in the road. Cody's big season earned him an offer from Wyoming but also interest from SEC mammoth Arkansas. The country's premier football conference was calling to the 6-4, 205-pound receiver.

Jacob also earned a Wyoming offer. And while the opportunity was there for the twins to stick together, the time had come for each to blossom on his own.

“That was really tough," Hollister said. "We had our family talking to us a lot, but when it came down to it I just talked to Cody. We spent a couple hours talking, and it just seemed like it was best for us.”

Division I football, for Jacob Hollister, meant letting go -- of his position, of his favorite receiver. Cody enrolled at Arkansas in January, while Jacob arrived in Laramie.

And here, there isn't too much on the football field that Jacob recognizes. He's learning the finer points of the pro-style offense, though it's somewhat similar to the scheme he used in Arizona. He's still adjusting to the technique and skill set of a tight end, too, though his natural athleticism has sped the process along.

"It’s really natural to him to play tight end, as far as how he can move his body around," Wyoming tight ends coach Shane LaDage said. "All the things we look for on tape, he does. Now it’s just learning hand position, head position, running through contact, those types of things.”

It's learning, too, how to thrive on a team and in a town where your best friend isn't standing by your side.

"Coming out of high school, Cody was my main target. We’ve been really close," Hollister said. "We still talk every day.

"It was kind of tough splitting up, but we know it was the best decision for both of us. It was a good thing.”

Reach reporter Mike Vorel at Mike.Vorel@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeVorel.

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