Louisiana’s 2011 recruiting class had some room for debate at the top.
Some felt Redemptorist offensive lineman La’el Collins was the state’s top-ranked prospect.
Through four weeks of college football, Newman wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has shown his name deserved strong consideration.
One year later, there’s not much debating that Dutchtown’s Landon Collins is the top Louisiana prospect for 2012.
Collins entered the summer as a four-star prospect, but emerged as a five-star and the nation’s No. 2-ranked safety – thanks in large part to his MVP performance at The Opening in Oregon.
“I came out trying to represent for Louisiana, but I also wanted to show that I was one of the best players in the country,” Collins said. “I felt like I proved something up there.”
So far this fall, it’s been much of the same.
Coming off the best season in Dutchtown’s history, Collins has made his mark in the team’s 4-0 start.
In an effort to replace last year’s offensive workhorse Effrem Reed, Dutchtown coach Benny Saia asked Collins to play on both sides of the ball, and through four weeks the 6-foot, 207-pounder has logged significant snaps at both safety and running back.
Collins’ lone interception came in the season opener against Lutcher, and one play later he capitalized on the turnover with his first rushing touchdown. He later added a second score on the ground.
Momentum continued to build two weeks ago against Sulphur when Collins flashed his special-teams skills when he took a punt 49 yards for a touchdown.
In a 43-22 win over Zachary last Friday, Collins delivered his biggest statement of the season, rushing for 179 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries.
“It was a great night, and it would have been even better if two plays wouldn’t have been brought back,” Collins said. “I had touchdown runs of 40 yards and 72 yards, but the ref threw flags on both of them.
“I am trying to make a big impact for this team, because I put the pressure on me to help carry us to the Superdome. Our goal is to get to the state championship. We weren’t far off last year, and this year everyone is healthy and staying fresh.”
As for the recruiting game, the five-star safety is taking a backseat approach – at least for the time being.
“I haven’t been answering a lot of calls, and if they try to get me at school then I will just get back in touch with the schools that I am still interested in,” Collins said. “I am trying to keep things as simple as possible.
“My next step will be finalizing all of my visits.”
Though dates have not been set, Collins said that he is sure of where he will visit.
“I am going to try and set up a trip to Florida this weekend for their game against Alabama. Then I will be in Baton Rouge the next weekend for LSU’s game against Florida. Then I’ll be up at Alabama for the LSU game. I hadn’t set the Tennessee and Texas visits yet, but I will soon.
“It’s a good schedule for me because I get to see all the best teams go against each other.”
Collins said that LSU, Alabama and California were the schools that have already sent coaches out to see him play during his senior campaign.
“Les Miles came first, and I saw him standing down on the sidelines keeping an eye on things,” Collins said. “Then Cal sent a coach down after that, and (running backs coach) Burton Burns came over from Alabama on Friday.
“After coach Burns came this past weekend, he told me that Alabama was going to recruit me at running back and safety. I don’t know about that though. It’s not really anything I have thought about. I’ve always been about playing defense.”
Through four weeks of college football, Collins is confident in his two leaders – in large part because of how impressive both SEC teams look on defense.
“It’s still LSU and Alabama for me,” Collins said. “I feel like both of their defenses are doing excellent. They are holding teams down and then the defensive backs are grabbing interceptions.
“I have liked what I’ve seen from LSU. Coach Chavis is coaching them up really well right now. They went wild against Oregon, and they held West Virginia back. I know they gave up yards, but Geno Smith is a really good quarterback, so I understood what Coach Chavis was trying to do. If they would have made some tackles and not dropped a couple interceptions, then it would have probably been an even bigger win.”
A rare occurrence in the recruiting world, Collins has an inside track to both programs because of high school teammates who emerged into regulars on Saturday afternoons.
“(Eddie) Lacy is really doing his thing when he runs the rock up at Alabama, and of course Eric (Reid) is holding things down at safety for Coach Chavis and LSU,” Collins said.
“I have been keeping up with Eric a lot. I text with him after games, and this past weekend after West Virginia I messed with him about dropping that interception. I call him butterfingers, and he doesn’t like that.”
Collins said he plans to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Bowl in January.