He even talks like a classic throwback

PULLMAN – His new nickname is Slash. Granted, it's a rip off from Kordell Stewart's early days in Pittsburgh. But as they like to say in Steel Town, if the cleat fits, wear it. And so it is that Washington State true freshman Jed Collins is a linebacker/fullback/special teams mainstay. No matter what you call him, though, one thing is certain: This kid's a throwback.

Not since the days of Chuck Morrell, Keith Lincoln and Clancy Williams could any of the old-timers polled this week by Cougfan.com remember a player who was in so many places seemingly at once.

"I tell ya, everything from his frame to his socks reminded me of Morrell," said Spokane's George Witter, who started following the Cougars in the late-1920s.

Maybe it's the water. Collins hails from Mission Viejo, Calif., a mere 40-minute drive from Morrell's boyhood home of Downey.

"Offense, defense, special teams. I think they even wear the same jersey number," said Witter.

Almost. Collins is No. 44 and Morrell, an All-Coast performer for the Cougars at linebacker and fullback in the late-1950s, was No. 42.

Numerology aside, on Saturday against Idaho, Collins woke the echoes of a bygone era in football when players were asked to do it all.

Consider his one-man box score:

- Recovered a fumbled kickoff
- Returned a kickoff 24 yards
- Made four tackles
- Caught a 27-yard pass from Alex Brink
- Lead blocker in several of the Cougars' two-back offensive sets.

The 6-2, 241-pound Collins came to WSU with nary a public mention from anyone about his immense versatility.

Given his prep credentials, there was little to suggest anything but linebacker – a smattering of action at tight end and fullback but a scrapbook full of plaudits for his prowess crackin' heads. Indeed, he was twice voted his league's defensive player of the year and last season was rated one of the top 60 prep linebacking prospects in the nation.

Collins said the Cougars recruited him primarily as a linebacker, but indicated that his athleticism, coupled with the fact the incoming class had a full complement of ‘backers, might warrant a look or two on the offensive side of the ball.

Asked this week where he'd prefer to play, Collins even offered an answer befitting a throwback to the iron man days: "Wherever I get a chance to play."

Cougar running backs coach Kelly Skipper said he was looking for guy with a fullback- type body. Seeing how well Collins did blocking on special teams led him to believe Collins' talent wasn't being fully utilized. "He's a very smart kid, and a good technician," Skipper said.

Defensive Coordinator Robb Akey – the one who tagged Collins with the Slash nickname – isn't about to give up his young gun to Skipper full-time, however. He assured CF.C that Collins will split time between the two units, though he needs more work on offense so is spending more time on that side of the ball in practices this week.

Jed Collins profile

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