Collie Proving He Belongs, Again

When Austin Collie was a freshman wide receiver, he shined on the field so much that he currently holds the BYU freshman record for touchdowns receptions (eight) and receiving yards (771). He also became the national freshman statistical leader with 4.8 receptions per game all while playing against teams like Notre Dame and USC.

One may expect this type of a performance from a California Mr. Football nominee, Prepstar and SuperPrep All-American candidate and Northern California's Most Valuable Player. However, when you serve two years away from the game in a foreign land where the sport of football is really soccer in the United States, one might feel they have to prove themselves all over again. Such is the mindset of return missionary Austin Collie.

"It's one of those things where I feel that I have to have the attitude of doing the right things to prove that I'm able to play at this level once again," said Collie. "I have to block out all of those accolades that I've accomplished back in 2004, just because that was two years ago."

Collie feels he has to wipe his past performance slate clean and start over as if this is his first year playing at the Division-I level.

"That's the attitude you have to have," said Collie. "I can't ride on this up-and-coming season based on what I did years ago during the 2004 season. I'm a new person and I'm a new player. It's been very difficult for me both mentally and physically as a player, but everyday I'm getting better and everyday we're getting our time down between Max [Hall] and I to develop a crisper game."

Knowing what he was able to do physically as a wide receiver prior to serving a full-time LDS mission has been a double-edged sword for Collie. Not being able to perform at his pre-mission level while working out over the summer has become both a source of frustration and motivation.

"It's one of those things where I would drop a ball, and obviously I'm going to get frustrated because I never dropped a ball in 2004 and I remember that," said Collie. "If I run a wrong route I get frustrated because I never did that, and I base my performance on what I was able to accomplish my freshman year. I'm trying to become one of the best receivers in the country like I was trying to be back in 2004, and that's my personal goal and how I feel I can help contribute to this team. The thing is, I do base my current performance on that 2004 season, but I do have the attitude that I have to strive to get there."

Coach Mendenhall has challenged his football team as a whole to "raise the bar" this year in an attempt to improve on last year's team performance. Collie has personalized this challenge and set a few personal standards of his own.

"My personal standard of raising the bar is making the big play all the time," Collie said. "When the ball comes my way I want to come up with the play in order to contribute to the team that way.

"Over the summer we did a lot of seven-on-seven. We did a lot of practices and threw the ball around just about every day except Sunday. We worked on the crisp routes and worked on getting back that natural instinct that makes you more competitive on the field."

Collie sees a night-and-day difference between the Cougar program under Coach Mendenhall and what it was like when he was catching footballs in the program over two years ago.

"Oh yeah, there is a huge difference," Collie said. "I think a big difference that I've seen is that everybody knows what they want. Back in 2004 it was kind of a gray area. Now we as a team know what we want and know what our goals are and [we] are going to work hard to get there. We're progressing forward as a team and we're getting sharper and crisper by the day."

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