How ironic is it that they call Alex Collins ‘Budda'? That was a nickname given to him by his older brother many years ago.
"When I was real young, when I was a baby, I was fat and pudgy," Collins said. "The name stuck. Even today I am known as Budda, whether I am playing football or not."
Collins is no longer fat and pudgy. He's actually quite the opposite, as this South Plantation star is now 5-foot-11 and a pretty chiseled 208-pounds. More importantly, he has developed his body and skills and turned himself into the state's top running back prospect and a five-star recruit according to FoxSportsNext and Scout.com.
That alone speaks volumes because Florida is loaded at the top this season with running back prospects like Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla.) who has committed to Alabama, Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade Glades Day) who's headed to Florida, Ryan Green (St. Petersburg Catholic) who has pledged to Florida State and a now uncommitted Greg Bryant (Delray Beach American Heritage).
"To be honest, that means a lot," Collins said. "To think last year I was unknown as an 11th grader. I played on the JV as a freshman and didn't play football as a sophomore. I knew I had to work to make a name for myself. I was the new kid that nobody knew. But I used that as motivation. I know who all these guys [running backs] are and then you have all the guys down here in South Florida. I just started working like those guys were working. Whatever they did I did. Now I feel like I am finally coming into my own."
To be honest, Collins hasn't even scratched the surface. You can see a huge difference between his junior to senior season and he's only five games into the 2012 campaign.
"My coach asked me if I wanted to play college football," Collins said. "I told him I would do whatever it takes. He told me I had to get bigger and I thought he was crazy because I thought I would lose my speed. But I listened and I worked."
Collins started his junior season at 180-pounds. He finished up last year at 192 and the Broward County player of the year after rushing for 1,786 yards and 27 touchdowns. Now he's better than ever at 208. And even that weight is just a temporary stop.
"In baseball, they love it when pitchers have three pitches," said Doug Gatewood, South Plantation's coach. "Pitchers have to have a fastball, curveball and changeup or slider. Whatever. With Alex, he's always had speed and quickness. But I told him he needed size.
"Alex got bigger and he's definitely faster. The summer before he's junior year he ran 4.61 [forty]. At Florida State's camp this summer here ran 4.41 and 4.38.
"There's no doubt he's not peaked because he has limited experience and even limited touches. He lifts but not like a college player lifts. I can only imagine what he will be like when his body really develops significantly."
Collins is cruising through five games. South Plantation is 5-0, mainly riding their horse named Budda. Collins has 96 carries for 980 yards and 11 scores. Remember, this isn't small time football in south Florida. He plays against the big boys in 8A with every defense geared to stop him.
"Alex is definitely no longer a hidden commodity," Gatewood concedes.
Collins is no longer unknown but he' certainly wanted. Despite committing to Miami in January he's still listening to other coaches from other programs. He was always up front with the ‘Canes staff from the very beginning.
"When he committed to them he told other coaches to still recruit him," Gatewood said. "He had only played the one season and didn't know what was out there. He visited Miami and basically committed on the spot. But he still wanted to be recruited."
Collins says he loves the Hurricanes but he just wants a chance to see what the college football world is like outside of Broward County.
"That Miami visit was my first ever to see a school," Collins said. "It was wonderful and I love Miami. I love those coaches and players. But at the same time I have never really been out of Broward. I also want to know what else is out there."
This weekend Collins will be in for a big change. He's headed to Madison for an official visit to Wisconsin. The following weekend he's headed to Tallahassee to make an official visit to Florida State.
"Those are the two visits I have set up so far," Collins said. "I have been to Miami a bunch but I may make my official visit when they play FSU in a few weeks. I haven't decided yet. I have been talking with Florida a lot lately. I talk with coach [Brian] White. UCF and South Florida are also showing me a lot of interest. It's pretty much those schools.
"Right now I am just taking things day by day."