Nico Collins had several questions about Michigan after the departure of his would-be position coach Jedd Fisch and his primary recruiter Tyrone Wheatley. Jim Harbaugh made his way to Pinson (Ala.) last Thursday to address the talented youngster’s concerns, flanked by new pass game coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and receivers coach Pep Hamilton. To everyone in attendance it was clear that the most important part of the visit was the Collins family getting a feel for the new Wolverine assistant.
“Right off the bat we connected,” Collins father Don reported. “It seems like he is a down to earth guy... somebody we can relate to. I feel pretty good about him being in that position. He is a good guy. I think (with him) being the passing coordinator, the wide receivers and the quarterbacks really will benefit from his presence. I think he is a guy that will definitely make an impact wherever he is, whether it’s Michigan, the NFL, or anywhere.”
Establishing a rapport was only part of the feeling out process. Also key to that was gaining an understanding for Hamilton’s philosophy and how Nico fit into it.
“I wanted to know what his game plan was,” Mr. Collins stated. “First of all, had he had a chance to see any film on Nico? He said he had. I just wanted to know what his game plan was for Michigan. How long he planned on being around? These guys move around like musical chairs so that was pretty much it. He said he is going to coach them up to the best of his knowledge and ability, bring the pro style effect to them, and teach them things to get them prepared for the next level… which is the NFL hopefully.”
“He said Nico’s game would definitely fit into his passing game,” Mr. Collins later added. “He pretty much said Nico’s game could fit in with any school in the country. (Hamilton thinks) he’s that good a player. It’s great to have him possibly coaching Nico. What he is going to do with him is just move (Nico) around if he decides to commit. He is going to have him on the perimeter, he is going to have him in the slot… maybe even the backfield from time to time. Just create different mismatches with him.”
That’s part of a tweaked offensive strategy that Jim Harbaugh has said will include more spread concepts.
Said Mr. Collins, “(Hamilton) just said he’ll be aggressive.”
“You’ve got a lot of spread now in the NFL too. Then with the caliber of receivers that are coming into Michigan… Michigan recruited some pretty good receivers this year… it would create a lot of space for the guys and some mismatches. That way (defenses) have got to be honest. It would give the running back lanes and holes to hit. I think it would be a good idea.”
The day after Harbaugh and Hamilton left, Collins and his family made it over to the University of Georgia for his final official visit. The Bulldogs have come on strong in recent months and wrapped up their courtship last weekend by emphasizing the pivotal role the four-star wideout would play in their offense.
“We had been down there several times,” Mr. Collins said. “We like Georgia. We like Athens. It’s a great city on Saturdays. Had a great time there. We like the coaches as well. They’ve got a big need for receivers. They want him really bad. They were saying that they’re going to feature him and put him in a positon to succeed on and off the field. With Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm… Nico is exactly what both of those quarterbacks need to be successful.”
Both signal callers were major parts of the Bulldogs’ pitch.
“He has met Fromm several times (and) he has met Eason several times,” said Mr. Collins. “As a matter of fact, they all hung out together the entire weekend we were there. I guess they gained some type of bond… some type of camaraderie.”
It’s the type of bond that Collins has long held with Michigan quarterback commit Dylan McCaffrey. The future Wolverine began building a relationship with his would-be teammate almost a year ago. Their connection grew stronger through shared visits to Ann Arbor, playing together at The Opening, and then again at the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii earlier this month.
“They still connect,” Mr. Collins said. “They talk and keep in touch. They hung out while they were in Hawaii… definitely. (Nico) likes Dylan a lot. Dylan is a great kid.”
The college football world will find out whether the two will be teammates again at tomorrow at 2:30 EST. The talented youngster has already made up his mind between Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, and LSU. All that’s left now is for him to make sure that he’s sure.
“We’re going to talk about it tonight, pray about it, and make the announcement tomorrow,” Mr. Collins said.
“The major thing is whichever program whichever school presents the best opportunity to put him in the best position to be successful after football. After college (and) after pros. If he is lucky enough to go to the NFL, then great. But when he is 35 years, in football that’s an old man. You’re just getting started in life. That (consideration) is exactly what it’s coming down to.”