Virginia running back Mike Hollins described his recovery a gunshot wound after being shot four months ago as a "miracle" on Tuesday, saying his return to the football field has allowed him to push past the pain and anguish he has felt since the tragedy that took the lives of three of his teammates.

In his first comments since returning to practice last week, Hollins told reporters on a Zoom call that the physical recovery has been the easy part for him -- even though he suffered internal injuries that required surgery and had a weeklong hospital stay. He described practice as "freedom."

"It's freeing for me," he said. "I don't have to think, I just play."

Hollins said the mental part, dealing with the deaths of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry, has by far been the most difficult.

"I expected to recover physically," Hollins said. "So it really wasn't on my mind. It was more, 'Man, How am I gonna even make it to practice without calling D'Sean?' It was more mental.

"I always expected to be able to squat what I used to squat, or power clean what I used to power clean, or run as fast as I used to, but it's the things that I couldn't change that bothered me the most."

The four players were shot in November on a charter bus after returning to Charlottesville following a field trip to Washington, D.C. Another student, Marlee Morgan, was also shot but survived.