Coug NFL hopefuls can look to Collins

FOR GRADUATING COUGS like John Fullington and others who aren't seeing their names on the internet gurus' NFL mock draft lists, they only have to look a short distance away on Saturday for inspiration. Jed Collins is the starting fullback for the New Orleans Saints, and his path out of Washington State to the pros is a picture in perseverance.

And Collins is not alone whn it comes to Cougars in the NFL who went the undrafted free agent route.

Another old Coug who went undrafted: Husain Abdullah. He had 2 INTs for the Chiefs last week in their one-point playoff loss to the Chargers.

Ropati Pitoitua also was undrafted. He's now in fifth NFL season.

Jeff Tuel and Travis Long were also undrafted free agents. Back in 2000, so was Rian Lindell. He just completed his 14th NFL season. But with the Seahawks meeting the Saints today in a playoff game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Collins' story seems particularly noteworthy.

Collins' versatility has played a part in his successful, though circuitous, path. Bill Doba once joked that you could time Collins in the 40 with a sundial. But then he turned serious, saying he's seen tight ends with all the measurable who didn't make the plays that Collins did.

And if you can make plays at that next level, and you stick with it long enough, you'll get found if Collins is any sort of example.

The 6-1, 255-pound Collins did a little bit of everything for the Cougs but he found his home at tight end – he earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior in 2007 after catching 52 passes for 512 yards, (thrown to him by Brink.)

Collins has changed NFL teams seven times.

He was initially signed by Philadelphia in 2008, and in the same year joined Chicago and Cleveland. In 2009, he was with Kansas City and Arizona before returning to Cleveland. That stint carried into 2010, before he joined Tennessee and finally, New Orleans.

Imagine packing everything up and taking care all of the things that go with making a major move. Now imagine doing it seven times in two years.

Most people probably would have gone and done something else, but Collins stuck with it. And that perseverance paid off in 2010 when he landed with the Saints.

For the last three years, Collins has played in 47 games for New Orleans, starting 26 of them.

Not bad for a guy who didn't have the "measurables."

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