Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
Collins takes a different path to Stardom
Alex Collins officially signed his letter of intent with the Razorbacks.
Highly recruited running back Alex Collins, 5-11, 210, 4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of Plantation, (Fla.) South hasn't gone the usual route of other highly touted running back prospects, according to his Coach Doug Gatewood.
"He's not one of these kids that has gone to all of these combines and been recruited by everybody under the sun," Gatewood said. "So his thing about recruiting is about making personal relationships with people. It's very important to him that he knows who's going to be coaching him and who's going to be in charge of the program."
Collins rushed 228 times for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns in Class 8A, the highest classification in Florida as a junior. As a senior, Collins missed three games due to injury while rushing for 1,400 yards.
Gatewood said Collins is strongly considering Arkansas for his fifth official visit in Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette because of his relationship with Hog Coach Bret Bielema.
"Alex isn't like most of the kids that are the five star recruits," Gatewood said. "Alex didn't play high school football in the 9th or 10th grade. he only played in the 11th grade. He was the player of the year in Broward County as a junior basically his first year to play high school football."
Bielema has been a regular in south Florida since the mid-90's.
"Coach Bielema has always been down here," Gatewood said. "I've known Coach Bielema since he was at Iowa. That's when I first became a head coach down here in Broward County. Iowa just started coming into South Florida."
Gatewood complemented the way Bielema relates to the athletes in the area.
"They're different, the way recruiting goes and the way our kids live life is a little bit different than anywhere else and he understands them," Gatewood said. "He does well with them and always has."
Because kids in south Florida have advice coming from numerous angles, Gatewood said college coaches must be truthful.
"People in the neighborhood, people in the parks, people always having an opinion," Gatewood said. "So who ever recruits them has to be honest with them upfront and Coach Bielema is always honest and upfront with you."
Gatewood said Bielema is a great coach that cares for his players.
"He loves his kids," Gatewood said. "I know it probably crushed him leaving those kids at Wisconsin but he's always a good guy and he always puts his kids first and a lot of people are going to go against that because of what he just did but trust me, I'm sure it was hard decision for him to make ."