Nico Collins has become something of a regular on Michigan's campus over the past year. The noteworthiness of that distinction is obviously a function of his home being in Pinson, Alabama. But now as he prepares to make what will be his fifth visit to Ann Arbor Saturday, his presence in the Big House doesn’t surprise anymore. All of those prior trips contributed greatly to Michigan’s strong standing in his recruitment, but there is more to the story than that. The foundation for the Maize & Blue’s appeal was actually laid by Collins’ Detroit-born father, Don.
"I'm a Michigan fan through and through,” the elder Collins said laughingly. “I could be in Jamaica somewhere (and) I'm still a Michigan fan. Yeah, I'm a Michigan fan through and through. The football down here is pretty tough, but you like to be true to your team. You grow up as a Michigan fan or any fan, that's who you like to ride with."
"I used to talk to (Nico) about Michigan a lot when he was a little younger. He wouldn't buy into it. He's always been a closet Michigan fan, but it actually took the trip... the first visit on campus… (that is what) I think sold him."
Sold him enough to make Michigan his favorite, but not yet enough to make Michigan the victor. That’s because there are a host of southern powers in strong standing also, none stronger than Georgia.
"We like it there in Athens,” Mr. Collins said. “Great place to watch college football… a lot of tradition. They're up there as far as their academics as well... actually one of the top schools in the SEC outside of Vanderbilt... them and Florida both. Then as far as their quarterbacks, they're pro style. We like their offensive coordinator Jim Cheney, and they've got two of the top quarterbacks (from the last two years). In the 2016 class with Jacob Eason, he was top one coming out last. And the next year they got Jake Fromm. He was one of the top quarterbacks in the 2017 class. So they're very appealing. If nothing else you definitely have a quarterback that can throw the ball, so that's definitely a great thing."
Talk of the Bulldogs surging up the four-star wideout’s list has been prevalent in recent weeks, but dad believes Georgia’s position is his son’s recruitment is the same that it has always been.
"I think it's just their persistence,” Mr. Collins stated. “Their coaches constantly checking in with him, checking on him, and they've always been one of the top three schools in the mix. That hasn't changed. It never changed from day one, so they're definitely in the mix."
That explains why Michigan isn’t resting on its recruiting laurels. The coaches in Ann Arbor have matched the persistence of their southern counterparts and have bolstered the favorable impression the Collins’ already had of them as a result.
"I think Jim Harbaugh is a genius at what he does,” Mr. Collins stated. “From being a player at the University Michigan and playing in the league, he's always been a tough guy and a winner. San Diego, Stanford, San Francisco 49ers... he's been successful. I think he knows what he's doing and I think he has a good time doing what he's doing and I think enjoys it. He'll probably do it for a long time to come."
"(Tyrone Wheatley) is a good guy. I watched him at Michigan as well, big fan of his. He's pretty straight forward and available pretty much whenever we need... whenever we have questions or concerns or just want to talk about football."
The Collins’ view of the Maize & Blue has also been aided by the plethora of freshmen that have made their way to the field this year.
"(It’s) definitely encouraging,” said Mr. Collins. “It lets you know there's hope. Basically if you show up and you've got your mind right, and put in the work, you should be able to get some reps. That's a big thing. Some people (would rather) you play as a sophomore, or would like to redshirt you and (have you) learn from the sideline. But if you can get on the field, that's great."
That’s very likely one of the topics of discussion when Collins corresponds with the array of Michigan commitments and targets with whom he has become close.
"He keeps in touch with a lot of guys,” said Collins. “He and Dylan (McCaffrey)... I want to say they talk every day, as well as Tarik Black. A bunch of guys... Peoples-Jones over at Cass Tech. These guys are in constant communication with each other."
Stay tuned to the Michigan Insider for more on Nico Collins in the coming days.