football

Questions surround Collins NSD drama

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On Feb. 4, Plantation (Fla.) South Plantation running back Alex Collins announced on national TV his decision to verbally commit to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
For Collins, it marked the end to a hectic recruiting cycle. Last spring, the four-star prospect committed to Miami, seemingly ending his recruitment before it really began. Now his recruitment is lasting longer than most after his mother refused to sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
As a junior, Collins led Broward County in rushing and took his team to the playoffs during his breakout year.
That's when colleges and recruiting experts took notice. Offers poured in from Florida, Florida State and Wisconsin, among others. And that's where things get a little tricky.
South Plantation head coach Doug Gatewood advised his star prospect to keep an open mind about the process.
It's something three-star quarterback and Collins backfield mate John Franklin said Gatewood told him as well.
"For me recruiting was a little different," Franklin said. "I picked up my dream offer from Florida State and committed on the spot. Coach Gatewood supported my decision. He never steered me one way and he did the same for Alex."
However, some people on message boards and other industry insiders have felt that Gatewood controlled the recruiting process and didn't want Collins at Miami.
Sources cite Gatewood's relationship with then-Wisconsin and current Arkansas assistant coach Charlie Partridge as the reason Collins visited Wisconsin. Collins did not previously have the Badgers on his radar.
Collins told Rivals.com in an interview this fall that former South Planation cornerback Hugs Etienne liked Madison and thought he should check it out. Once Partridge moved on to Arkansas with head coach Bret Bielema, Collins visited Fayetteville on the weekend of Jan. 25.
Franklin defended his coach.
"I don't know where people get that from. Coach Gatewood treated Alex and I the same. Wherever he went, I went," Franklin said.
It's not unusual for high school coaches to have a strong relationship with a certain university or college coaching staff.
Florida State did offer both players. But it was not Gatewood but Collins' mom, Andrea McDonald, who took Collins to Tallahassee for the Seminoles' Junior Day last February while he was committed to Miami.
When word broke Wednesday that Collins left his announcement without signing his letter of intent because McDonald wasn't comfortable with his choice, it begged the question, was the original decision to choose Arkansas Alex's or was he influenced by Gatewood?
Late Wednesday night, Collins told NBC6 in Miami that he would sign with the Razorbacks Thursday morning.
In the end, that's all he wanted in the first place.
"I mean, it's his decision," Franklin said. "If he wants to go to Arkansas and it's the best place for him, it should be his choice."
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