"I've just been eating, running, and lifting weights," Collins said. "It just kind of happened, but it's something that I've been working towards. The [UNC] coaches told me to come in ready to contribute, so I wanted to come in physically ready to handle being a college linebacker.
"Talking to Coach [Ron] West, he said by the time I'm finished [preseason practice] I'll be about 245."
About a year ago, Collins was a lanky prospect who barely eclipsed 200 pounds. At seemingly each camp and combine he attended last spring and summer, his check-in weight increased until finally tipping the scales at 215 pounds at Fedora's Freak Show in late June. By the end of his senior football season, he played in the 220-225-pound range.
"Honestly, it just started to happen, because my dad said he was the same way," Collins said. "He was real lean in high school and going into his senior year he got taller and started to fill out. That's pretty much the same thing that's happening to me."
Collins's father, Fred, played college football at South Carolina.
A workout routine that has mixed in UNC's regimen helped Collins fill out.
"I have my days where I follow the weight lifting plan that [UNC] gave [the signees]," Collins said. "There are also some days where I work out with one of my [high school] coaches. He's a personal trainer and he has his own workout. I've been working with him since my sophomore year and he's a sports director at the Y."
Collins says he has about two weeks remaining on UNC's workout plan.
"Preparing for my senior high school season going into the summer, I was really just learning the playbook and learning the defense," Collins said. "But preparing for college ball, I'm really just focusing on putting on weight and getting in shape. It's not the same – instead of having a running back that's 185 pounds in high school, you have a running back that's 230."
Collins began the spring sports season with the track-and-field team, but that was short-lived.
"I didn't even make it to the first meet," Collins said. "I began working out with the track team but the track schedule conflicted with my workout schedule."
Collins has begun to have more conversations with future position coach West. However, Collins says he's still in regular communication with Gunter Brewer and saw him twice during the Spring Evaluation Period.
"I asked Coach Brewer where they wanted me to contribute and he said one of the three linebacker positions," Collins said. "Coach West says he expects me to work for a spot.
"Specials teams is definitely a given -- I'm not saying it's a given, but it's definitely a spot I should be able to contribute."
Brewer has to get back to Collins on jersey numbers. In the meantime, Collins has done some investigating of his own. He grabbed a copy of the roster during the spring game.
"I can't get No. 3, which hurts because that's my baby – that's my mom's favorite number," Collins said. "I think the next number that I want was 33 or 55 or something like that, but I think I'm going to try to get 48. I'm real big on how numbers look and it would be worse than 48.
"Definitely my senior year, I want to finish out with No. 3."
Collins is undecided on a major but he's leaning towards business. He has already enrolled in a history and an economics class for the second summer semester.
On June 15, Collins will graduate from Berry Academy. That night, he and his parents will drive to Chapel Hill, stay in a hotel, and then receive his room key the following afternoon.
"It will be me, ‘Dink' [Robert Dinkins] and Josh [Cabrera] in a room together, because Malik [Carney] isn't coming to summer school," Collins said.