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The biggest remaining recruitment in the 2020 cycle for Texas Longhorn coaches was the one closest to campus. Bastrop Cedar Creek defensive linemen Alfred Collins took his process to the second National Signing Day and announced his decision in front of a packed school gym.
Rather than play the hat game that’s become synonymous with National Signing Day, Collins placed a balloon filled with powder shaded to be the color of his school choice in the middle of the gym. For a moment, people in attendance wondered how they would differentiate between the crimsons of Oklahoma and Alabama if he decided to leave the state.
Those concerns were quickly dashed when Collins popped a balloon with orange powder, put on a Texas hat, and joined the Cedar Creek High School community in singing “The Eyes of Texas.”
Collins, a first-team All-Central Texas defensive lineman who recorded 86 tackles, 28 TFLs, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 2 blocked kicks during his senior season, became the final addition to Texas’ 2020 class from the high school ranks.
It wasn’t an easy process for Collins and his family. He called it a “dogfight” following his ceremony and said he didn’t know where he was going until last week he received “signs from God and family.”
“I just got signs randomly out of nowhere,” Collins said. “I felt loved. I felt at home.”
He said it truly was a back and forth recruitment, mentioning he “wanted to go to all of them,” but realizing that wasn’t a possibility.
After countless official visits, school visits, and in-home meetings with coaches, Collins said he informed the Texas staff last week he would be a Longhorn.
Texas, head coach Tom Herman, and defensive line coach Oscar Giles spent a lot of time recruiting Collins. Giles made several trips down Texas SH-71 to see Collins, his family, and other members of the Cedar Creek community.
“I just like the way he coaches,” Collins said. “I like him as a person. I feel like he’ll develop me to be the best player I can be.”
Collins’ mother, Benita Pollard-Collins, offered familial descriptions to Giles for the way he interacted with her family.
“Coach Giles is real,” Pollard-Collins said. “He’s like the uncle. He cares about him. He was really awesome because he would come to his sister’s basketball games. He took that extra step, and that meant a lot to our family to come and support him and ask his sister ‘how did your game go?’”
People and relationships matter in recruiting, but the product on the field is a significant component. Texas fired Todd Orlando and hired Chris Ash to be his replacement at defensive coordinator after the 2019 season, all while retaining Giles.
Giles remaining on campus and Ash bringing in his own system were two major appeals that factored into Collins’ recruitment.
“At the end of the day, it came down to where I’d play,” Collins said. “They switched down to a four-man (front), and I like four-man because I don’t like getting double-teamed every play. I think that’s where I’d fit best.”
Texas didn’t have a National Signing Day press conference, but Herman did appear on Longhorn Network Wednesday evening to talk about Collins and fellow late addition Kelvontay Dixon.
“He was a guy that we recruited that it feels for like three years now,” Herman said of Collins. “To be able to sign his name on the dotted line and for us to be able to call him a Longhorn is pretty important.”
What about Collins on the field?
“Length, strength, and athleticism,” Herman said. “He’s really long, he’s really big and strong, and he’s a starter on their basketball team at 285 pounds.”
Collins will enroll at Texas this summer. He’s glad the process is over, but is appreciative of all those who helped him along the way.
“They’ve done so much for me,” Collins said. “Time for me to give back.”