Collins on board with Razorbacks

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Alex Collins officially signed his letter of intent with the Razorbacks.
Alex Collins officially signed his letter of intent with the Razorbacks.

— Alex Collins made it official Thursday.

The highly recruited running back from South Plantation (Fla.) High School signed a national letter of intent to play football at Arkansas after 24 hours of drama.

Collins, 5-11, 210 pounds, had planned to sign with the Razorbacks on Wednesday, national signing day, but all that changed after his mother, Andrea McDonald, reportedly confiscated his letter of intent and refused to support his decision to attend Arkansas.

“It feels good to finally get it out of the way and get it over with,” Collins told a CBS television affiliate in Miami.

Collins had sought out his father, Johnny Collins, to sign his letter of intent with Arkansas on Wednesday. The two signed the necessary paperwork Thursday during a private ceremony at a local restaurant.

NCAA rules require prospects younger than 21 to have a parent or legal guardian sign the letter of intent for it to be considered valid. South Plantation Athletic Director Mike Collins told The Miami Herald that the NCAA would accept the signed letter of intent because Johnny Collins is listed as the running back’s biological father on his birth certificate.

McDonald released a statement Thursday through The Cochran Firm South Florida, saying she was only concerned about her son and wanted him to choose a university “without any outside and inappropriate influences.” The statement went on to say McDonald hoped all NCAA rules and regulations were followed during the signing.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema expressed confidence Thursday there was no wrongdoing by the Razorbacks staff during Collins’ recruitment.

“The part I’ve always kind of carried through my whole life is if you always tell the truth, you won’t have to remember what you said,” Bielema said before Arkansas’ Signing Day in the Rock event at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. “It’s kind of the same thing in recruiting, the same way you handle your daily life. If you always know what you’re in control of, if you always know what you did, you have nothing to worry about.”

Collins is rated a four-star recruit by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, but he is listed as a five-star by several other recruiting agencies. He chose Arkansas over scholarship offers from Miami, Florida, Florida State and Wisconsin. He said he didn’t consider going anywhere else following Wednesday’s postponement.

“I had my mind set,” Collins told The Herald. “This is where I wanted to go. I talked to Mom and let her know. I explained myself and we got a better understanding.”

Collins said he was undeterred by his mother’s actions and said he understood that she only wants what she feels is best for him.

“It’s not necessarily her not wanting me to go to Arkansas,” Collins told CBS. “It was because she cares about me so much that she doesn’t want me to make the wrong decision. I respect her and understand why she did it, to really give me time to really think about it.

“It was her making sure I made the right decision.”

Collins, dressed in camouflage and wearing a camouflage tie, was joined at the signing by his father, his aunt and his grandmother. Johnny Collins told The Herald he agreed to sign the papers because “that’s where he wants to go.”

“It’s emotional,” his aunt, Loretta Collins, told The Herald. “He really wanted his mom’s support, but at the same time it’s his decision. He would love for his mother to be here with him, but he had to make his decision with where he wanted to go.”

Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge served as Arkansas’ lead recruiter for Collins. Partridge said he has recruited Collins for about two years and that he spoke with Collins on Thursday morning.

“I said, ‘Listen Alex, if it’s best for you to go to Miami, all I want is what is best for you,’ ” Partridge said. “He was extremely grateful for that statement. His follow-up to that was that was a big part of the reason that he wanted to be a Razorback.”

Arkansas is getting a running back who is expected to fit in well with Bielema’s offense. Collins, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, rushed 228 times for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and was named Broward County’s player of the year after his junior season.

Collins told The Herald he feels he has a good chance to play early at Arkansas.

“With my work ethic, I feel like I can outwork anybody,” he said. “Based on anywhere I would have went, I feel like I could have fought for playing time. I expect to get there and compete.”

Sports, Pages 19 on 02/08/2013