“There were still dead spots on the field this spring from where he was kicking last fall,” Sumiton Christian coach Zach Holmes said. “He was out there kicking every single day.”
That persistence paid off for Collins, who recently signed with Huntingdon College in Montgomery. He will be part of the Hawks’ football team this fall.
Collins has been looking forward to playing at the collegiate level since he started kicking on the varsity squad as a sophomore.
“I always loved playing football and I started to focus on kicking because I thought I could get a scholarship to kick somewhere. (Three) weeks ago, on a Sunday, my mom called and told me I got accepted. I got tears in my eyes. It’s indescribable how excited I was.”
Collins, known as “Jazzy” at Sumiton Christian, joins former teammate Andrew Rhodes at Huntingdon. Rhodes, a quarterback, signed with the school last year.
Holmes, who also played at Huntingdon, feels Collins will be a perfect fit for the Hawks.
“It’s a struggle to get kickers in Division III. A quality kicker, especially at that level, is worth a lot,” Holmes said. “It’s rare that you find a kid who will put a lot of time and dedication into something as monotonous as kicking and not get burned out. He’s been to a lot of camps and is kicking better than he ever has right now. If the rest of our guys worked as hard at their positions as he has, we’d have no problems across the board.
“I know the coaches at Huntingdon are pumped that he’s coming down there. The work ethic he has is rare.”
Collins’ longest kick in a game is 39 yards. He has hit from 55 yards during practice.
“I think I can compete for the starting job as soon as I get there,” Collins said. “I think I can help them out.”
Former Sumiton Christian head coach Greg Patterson fondly recalls Collins nailing a 32-yard game-winning kick in his sophomore season in 2010.
“There were about 50 seconds left and he came in and kicked it through to give us the (31-29) win,” Patterson said.
“I always knew if we could get the ball to the 25-yard line, we had three points. When you don’t have to get to the red zone to score points, that takes a load off of you as a coach. He was crucial for us. When it comes to extra points and field goals — he’s money.”
During his high school career, Collins played offensive and defensive line up until his senior season. He would also help out on the scout team when needed during practice.
“He’s a true team player, all the way around. He was really committed to his kicking. When he makes up his mind to do something, he’s as committed an individual as you will find,” Patterson added.
Collins said he wouldn’t trade a moment of his time at Sumiton Christian.“I’ve been blessed to go to a great school. I really love it here. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” he said.