There have been plenty of great college running backs over the years such as Barry Sanders, Herschel Walker, Ricky Williams, Bo Jackson, Eddie George, Adrian Peterson and that’s just to name a few. Then in today’s realm of college football, we have running backs like Todd Gurley, TJ Yeldon, Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason that we consider to be great and the next big thing in the NFL.
However, there is one particular running back that I think some fans tend to forget about and that running back is Alex Collins of Arkansas.
Collins may only be a freshman but he is already showing the ability to be the next top college football running back.
He was recently named SEC Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press. This season as a freshman, he rushed for 1,026 yards and four touchdowns on 190 carries. He’s the first running back in SEC history to rush for 100 yards in the first three games of his career. He was also the first freshman in the country to accomplish that goal since Adrian Peterson in 2004.
Now it’s no surprise that Collins had a great freshman season, in high school he was ranked as the No. 1 running back in the country by 247Sports.com, the No. 3 running back in the country by Scout.com and the No. 13 running back in the country by Rivals.com. While the sites may have ranked him differently, no one can deny that this young man was a force in high school. In his junior year of high school, he rushed for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns along with helping his team qualify for the state playoffs. His senior season was even better considering he rushed for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns and he did all that while leading his team to district title.
I also feel when it comes to Collins, you have to look beyond the stats and look at the game film. As a freshman, he has shown great vision, he does a great job of following his blockers, reading defenders and making the correct adjustments to earn good yardage. He isn’t afraid of contact and has shown the ability to break tackles and earn tough yardage. Some question his speed but I don’t, he may not have a great speed but he has good game speed, meaning he knows how to burst through the holes and gain plenty of yards. He can also be used in the passing game, he isn’t a great receiver out of the backfield yet but he did show solid ability to make plays out of the backfield in the passing game. There is no reason to think he won’t continue to get better as he continues his college career.
He obviously can’t enter the 2014 NFL Draft seeing that he is only a freshman in college but if he were able to leave and he chose to enter the Draft, I have no reason to think he wouldn’t be selected between the first and second round depending on the order of the draft.
Obviously this young man has all the potential in the world but it’s up to him to exceed his potential and to do that he must stay humble, hard-working and continue to improve his game. After that, my main goal for him would be to stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, there is nothing to hold him back expect himself. I’m not saying that he is the next Adrian Peterson or anything. I’m simply saying that he is Alex Collins, the next potential great running back in college football.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com