Austin Collie is a Man on a Mission

<b>Austin Collie</b> is that rare specimen of scholar-athlete that must make BYU's offensive brain trust, <b>Gary Crowton</b> and <b>Todd Bradford</b>, smile in their sleep in gleeful anticipation.

"I've watched the new receivers at BYU" – first team JC All-American Todd Watkins and highly touted Michael Morris – "and I'm not worried. I'm pretty confident I can come in and get a starting spot, make a difference and be THE receiver this year," Austin told in a confident and matter-of-fact manner.

If anyone can back up his gusto, it's probably BYU signee Austin Collie. He has also posted an 1110 SAT score with a 3.9 GPA, so there's no doubt he also has it upstairs.

Austin is widely considered the best LDS wide receiver in the country over the last 10-plus years and could have played for any school he wanted.

Consider his stats and facts: Austin totaled 1,654 all-purpose yards – 973 receiving, 368 rushing, 313 on returns – and scored 18 of his 23 touchdowns last season on pass receptions. His 196 points scored included seven field goals he kicked (in seven attempts), and 37 extra points. As a defensive back, Austin had 53 tackles (27 solo, 26 assists) and intercepted two passes with 103 return yards.

Used mainly as a wide receiver, Austin did so much more than just catch the ball. Using his 6-3, 185-pound frame and 4.49/40 speed and quickness, Austin was also the team's main punter, kicker and kick returner.

He was so dominant on offense, defense and special teams that he was named the Sacramento Bee's Most Valuable Player on its 2003 All-Metro (Northern California) Team. And we are talking about stiff competition in Northern California, folks.

Austin was also one of five finalists for "Mr. Football" for the state of California; All-City MVP; a PrepStar All-American; a SuperPrep All-American; and Sierra Valley Conference MVP.

The high-impact receiver helped lead his Oak Ridge High School Trojans to a 12-1 record (5-1 in the Sierra Valley Conference) and their second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title under head coach Chris Jones.

As one might expect, even his mother, Nicole Collie, had a few kind words: "Austin is pretty amazing. Since the second he made the decision to go to BYU, he has had no regrets at all."

Austin will join brother Zach, the eldest of five Collie children, at BYU and both will continue a Cougar family legacy. Their father, Scott, was also a Cougar gridiron player from 1979-82. Zach, who returned from an LDS mission last year, will be a sophomore walk-on receiver this fall. Austin plans to play one year before leaving on an LDS mission.

Though he was offered by more than a dozen major colleges, Austin narrowed his final two choices early to Stanford and BYU. In the final months, he watched, waited and evaluated both programs closely, but he finally gave the nod to BYU on Dec. 17 and never wavered.

"Stanford was my No. 1 choice for a while," Austin confirmed. "I wanted to set up my own path (and not necessarily follow his father and brother to BYU), but things changed as I started talking to BYU coaches and considered playing with my brother.

"BYU, with its offense and play style that showcased the wide receivers … I felt that was the best way for me to get to the NFL. I feel that I made the right decision and there is no other school for me except BYU. I have no regrets," Austin continued.

After watching the improved talent level at receiver during informal workouts, Austin commented that he applauds the Cougar coaches for aggressively going after and signing seven receivers, especially proven performers from the junior college ranks.

"I feel the coaches needed help quickly at that spot. You can't really predict how a high school receiver can handle it. I think you find and put the best athletes on the field. Having these athletes gives us a chance to spread the ball out a little more. Even though they (BYU) recruited seven receivers, they are recruiting great athletes that may play other positions as well."

Providing his own evaluation of BYU's 2004 recruiting class, Austin noted, "I feel it's one of the best recruiting classes BYU's gotten. It feels awesome. I really feel that they're (signees) are going to have a big impact this year."

Obviously biased toward receivers, Austin added, "Todd Watkins is a bad (as in good) dude. He's very good. I feel like we've got some athletes. This is just the finishing touch we need. We have someone to throw the ball to now."

Like sweet, soothing music falling on willing ears, Austin outlined his immediate and longer-term playing goals at BYU. "I'm looking forward to starting this season, getting Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, and making a big impact on the team. I want to go to the NFL as runner-up for the (Fred) Biletnikoff Award (top college receiver in the country) and as (MWC) conference MVP."

Not too many people who really know Austin would bet against him doing exactly that.

"I told my dad before my (senior) season started that I was going to be All-City and All-League MVP (which he achieved – and more). I never set goals I don't think I can achieve," Austin continued.

And if anyone needed verification or validation of his personal commitment, he added, "I have a trainer, Patrick Gallagher, who will help me work on my speed and stuff. He knows exactly what he is doing and he's been our team trainer at Oak Ridge. He is opening his own place in El Dorado Hills and everybody in the area goes to him. He offered to help me out and work with me because he is a good family friend. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Austin plans to run a low 4.4 by the time he heads to Provo. How soon will that be? "I graduate on May 28. I'll be there working out on May 29! I heard the quarterbacks are throwing well ..."

That's just what a driven, confident and multi-talented wide receiver -- ready, willing and able to walk-his-talk -- loves to hear.

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