Three-star athlete Elijah Collins is best known as a running back.
In fact, Scout rates the 6-foot-0, 195-pound junior as the No. 1 back in the state of Michigan.
Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan have all offered Collins, but not necessarily to play offense.
Because of his physicality, length and explosive traits, many programs like the product of Jesuit in Detroit, Mich., at the rover position, including Notre Dame.
“I play running back and outside linebacker but I can play any position that they need me to,” Collins said. “With Notre Dame, they’re recruiting at the Rover, which is a hybrid between the safety and a linebacker. I’ll be able to cover some guys or come down off the edge or fill the hole that’s needed to.
“I’ve played rover at my school, so it’s something that I’m used to.”
Not only is defense an area where Collins has experience, he’s comfortable developing on that side of the ball in college.
“I don’t really have a (favorite) position,” Collins said. “A lot of people say that my money could be at the safety or rover position. I have the speed and then I also have the size to be able to make plays.”
The Motor City star is more than happy to test his talent on the defensive side. Collins visited Notre Dame in April during a morning practice and saw coach Mike Elko’s defense in action.
“I actually like it a lot,” Collins said. “At the rover, you get to tackle a lot. I saw the rover making big plays and it got everybody excited. And I saw the rover drop back in coverage and a little bit of man-to-man, so it was kind of exciting because the rover gets to do a lot.”
Like Notre Dame, Collins’ current school is a private school with strong tradition.
The similarities are comforting.
“Notre Dame kind of reminds me of my school,” Collins said. “When I first went there, it kind of felt like my school. It was easy to get a feel for it. As soon as I walked in, I got the same feeling as when I walk into my school.”
Collins has been meshing well with the Irish staff.
“The primary recruiter from Notre Dame from my area is coach Todd Lyght,” Collins said. “He played in the NFL and we talked back and forth a lot at Notre Dame. Had a great conversation with him and sat down and talked about how it’s not only a school for athletics but also a school that can build you a better character.”
On June 10, Collins will take his second visit to Notre Dame for their invite-only Irish Invasion camp. He looks forward to proving his worth to the coaching staff.
“I’m looking forward to covering a few guys, showing them that I can handle man-to-man or zone defense,” Collins said. “At the rover position, they know I can come downhill and tackle, they just want to see if I can cover a few guys.”
With 14 schools on his current offer list, Collins plans to trim things down in the coming months.
“As of right now, I’m probably going to shorten my list mid summer or the end of summer,” Collins said. “I think I’ll make my college decision either during my senior season or after.”
For the Irish, scholarship numbers are tight. Collins will have to put on a show during his camp performance in order to earn an offer.
Still, Notre Dame appears to have legitimate interest.
The Irish coaching staff has invited him to practice, visited his school, and will now evaluate the versatile junior during their upcoming skills camp.
Collins has their attention.