High praise for Collins

Sophomore defensive tackle Maliek Collins is impressing his coaches and even the offense this spring.

LINCOLN, Neb. - With the return of All-Big Ten defensive end Randy Gregory and recent comments by head coach Bo Pelini regarding Greg McMullen, the outside starters on Nebraska's defensive line appear to be a major asset.

But what about the inside?

How are those young defensive tackles progressing?

Judging by the recent buzz, Nebraska's defensive line could be the best in the Big Ten, especially if sophomore defensive tackle Maliek Collins lives up the hype he's receiving from his excellent play through nine practices.

"I'm telling you right now, he's probably going to be an All-American before it's all said and done," said Nebraska senior running back Ameer Abdullah when asked about Collins' potential. "Collins is very explosive and I'm glad Givens Price is lined up against him right now. I may be jumping the gun, but I don't know if there is a better DT in the conference. I really don't.

"I played against the guy from Minnesota (Ra'shede Hageman). I played against Jordan Hill from Penn State. I played against the big guy from Ohio State (Johnathan Hankins) my freshman year. I haven't seen anything like him (Collins) to be honest. ..He's a very humble kid and comes from a very humble upbringing, but he's hungry and ready to play."

Pelini sees the potential in Collins. He's coached some of the greatest defensive tackles college football has ever seen.

"He reminds me in some ways, a lot of ways, of what (Glenn) Dorsey did. I think he's got that kind of upside if he continues on his progress," said Pelini, who coached the former Lombardi, Nagurski, and Outland winner at LSU, before he was the fifth pick in the 2008 NFL draft. "He's got that kind of ability, a guy who's got that strength, but also has great feet, great movement."

Collins knows that's high praise from his head coach, a head coach who usually doesn't make many comparisons.

"I know about Dorsey and his days at LSU," said the soft-spoken Collins. "That's a dominant force…that makes me want to keep working hard and keep being coachable. I want to keep making those gains."

In 12 games last season, the Missouri product recorded 12 total tackles and one sack as a reserve defensive tackle. His experience as a true freshman put him on the path to see his development as a player move quicker than most.

"I was rolling with the ones and twos most of the season so I got to go against Spencer (Long) a lot," said Collins. "I feel like it really helped me a lot."

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