Another D-Line possibility to walk on

College recruiters commonly look for specific size and speed for a given position, which means that many very good athletes can end up falling through the cracks. <br><br>So it was for Clay-Chalkville's Matt Collins, a linebacker/offensive lineman/defensive end who will be joining the Alabama squad in the fall as a walk-on.

High school coach, Bruce Hill, isn't certain which position Matt Collins (6-2, 235) will end up at in college, but he has no doubt that the Tide is getting a good one. "Matt is a super kid, who is an overachiever as far as his work ethic," Hill said. "He'll go the extra mile. He fell in that gray area size-wise. Unfortunately he's a little short for a Division 1A offensive lineman and maybe just a tenth of a second slower than what they're looking for at linebacker. That kept him from being a major Division 1A recruit.

"He's a ‘yes sir, no sir' type kid who'll do it the way Coach Price and staff down there wants it done."

O-Line/linebacker is an unusual combination in football, but the Pinson native was just trying to help his team. "He's a kid that has played on both sides of the ball for us," Hill explained. "Matt started at offensive guard for the last three years and also played inside linebacker on defense last season. At the 6A level of competition it's hard for a kid to play both ways. He didn't play 48 minutes, but he was a regular on both sides of the football."

As a junior and senior Collins received all-state recognition at guard, but he also stood out on defense. "He was a hard-nosed, aggressive player on defense," Hill said. "He was one of our leading tacklers. He had a nose for the football. He played with good leverage and has great feet."

If Collins does end up at defensive end, then Paul Randolph will be his position coach.

Collins turned down several scholarship offers from lower-level colleges, choosing to follow his childhood dream. "There were several smaller schools showing interest, wanting him to play for them on scholarship," Hill said. "But Matt has always wanted to play at Alabama.

"He realizes it's going to be tough walking on, but he's grown up since he was knee high to a grasshopper going with his dad down to Alabama football games."

Not quite wide enough for the offensive line and probably a bit slow for linebacker, Hill thinks Collins' best chance to contribute on the college level could be on the D-Line. "I think he could make it as a defensive end. Even though he was a linebacker, we played him down his junior year as a defensive end. He's as strong as a dad-gummed bull, and he's probably going to continue to put on some weight. I could see him as a defensive end."

The Tide is currently in the process of reducing the total number of walk-ons on the squad. And with preference given to current athletes, the Bama coaches are being very selective regarding incoming high school players.

"He's going to be a good choice," Hill stated firmly. "I know that they can only have so many walk-ons, but Coach Price and the staff won't be disappointed with Matt."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Tide staff is being frankly picky this year regarding potential walk-ons. Most of the decisions will not be made until the conclusion of spring drills. As we learn of confirmed athletes, will pass the information along to our readers.

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