Last season, Collins, a 6-foot-8, 288-pounder, helped allow O'Brien to throw for 1,757 yards and collect 18 all-purpose touchdowns in East Forsyth's spread offense.
Serving as O'Brien's on-field bodyguard isn't just business to Collins.
"I take it personally because Danny and I are real tight," Collins said. "Basically, he's like my brother. I take it personally if something happens to him."
During his junior season, Collins gave up only one sack – and that occurred on what he labeled a "fishy play." Collins is determined to pitch a shutout this coming season.
"It's not going to happen this year, I'm not going to let up any sacks – I can promise that," Collins said. "That's definitely one of my top goals before I leave – leave here and not give up any sacks for the whole season."
Collins is also aspiring to collect 70 pancake blocks. He was credited with 56 pancake blocks his junior campaign and 26 the proceeding season.
East Forsyth also tends to run the ball to the left side – behind Collins. In 2007 starting tailback Christian Smith, who returns this fall, rushed for almost 1,400 yards.
To further diversify East Forsyth's offense, Willert has installed several running plays that require Collins to pull.
"He's lost a lot of weight and gotten a lot more athletic so we've actually put in a couple of pulling schemes for him now, too," Willert said. "I think that will help [our running game]. I'd hate to be sitting on the other side seeing a 6-7, 300-pound guy coming around with a full head of steam."
Last season, Collins had a couple pulling assignments, but they were rarely called.
"His feet weren't there," Willert said. "But in the offseason [he lost weight and his feet improved]. Obviously, you can see him from where he was to where he is now. It's really helped our offense open up in the fact that we can add some pulling schemes in there."
Since the conclusion of his junior season, Collins has lost nearly 40 pounds
"The biggest thing is I've been working since the season ended," Collins said. "As soon as the season ended I was in the gym. I didn't have a day off during the week and sometimes I would come in on Saturdays. During the winter and spring breaks, I didn't take a break. That's what pushed me over the edge and that's how I got my [UNC] offer.
"I feel so much better conditioning-wise. Last year, I was the guy behind everybody in conditioning [drills] and lagging everything down and having them push me up. Now I'm the guy finishing first and pushing everybody else up – I feel really good about that."
Collins is still becoming acclimated to pulling.
"I've got to get better with my footwork on pulling," Collins said. "I'm getting a little too anxious and not looking where I'm supposed to right now. But I'm working hard on that and I'll have it down pat before our first scrimmages."
Collins' lone responsibility on the team is left tackle. However, he could convert to an eligible receiver in a special situation.
"He's been begging me for one day to get one touchdown," Willert said laughing. "I said we might put him at tight end one game or get him out for a two-point conversion. I've been promising him for four years – I guess I'm running out of time."
Collins, who verbally committed to UNC in early March, is happy as ever with his decision and recently attended a UNC practice.
"I'm loving it," Collins said. "… I just love it down there. I can't complain about anything. If I have an issue on something I'm not doing right or something I need to talk about like moving my feet, I can go up there and just ask [the coaching staff]… I just can't wait to get up there and play."
Collins says he communicates with Sam Pittman, UNC's offensive line coach, at least three times a week.
"We just talk about everything," Collins said. "Usually, we ask about practice. I ask how practice is going – small talk like that. [We're] just building a great relationship."
At UNC, Collins will likely stay at tackle but might flip sides.
"He said if he had to put me on the field to play against a team, just because of the size wise and depth, he would have to put me at right tackle right now," Collins said. "I want to stay at tackle, but if I have to go to guard, I'll go to guard. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay at either right or left tackle."
Collins is looking forward to becoming a regular at Kenan Stadium.
"I can't wait to see that Notre Dame game – everybody is talking about that one," Collins said.
The NC State game on November 22 will be the most trying for Collins and his parents, who are both Wolfpack alums.
"For 17 years I've been liking [NC] State and hating UNC," Collins said. "I'm excited [about the UNC-NC State game], but I'm sorry -- I'm a Carolina guy now. I'm pulling for that Carolina team.
"There's no red in my closet anymore; all that has been thrown out."