Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

September 12, 2013

RB Alex Collins enjoying early success at Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Alex Collins had to wait an extra day in February before signing his national letter of intent with Arkansas.

The brief postponement has proven worthwhile for Collins and the Razorbacks, who look to remain undefeated Saturday when they host Southern Mississippi (0-2).

After just two weeks, Collins leads the Southeastern Conference with an average of 151.5 yards rushing. His 172-yard effort in a comeback win over Samford last week marked the first time in school history that a freshman has opened his career with back-to-back games of more than 100 yards on the ground.

The performances have hardly come as a surprise to coach Bret Bielema.

"I've watched Alex for three years,'' Bielema said. "He's a very gifted player. He can turn a play in a minute.''

For all of Collins' recent success, his first foray into the national spotlight came in February. The highly-coveted running back from South Plantation High near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., verbally committed to play for the Razorbacks two days before signing day.

However, his mother no-showed at his signing ceremony and refused to sign the letter of intent - leading to plenty of attention across the country. Collins signed with Arkansas (2-0) a day later, with his father providing the written consent required by NCAA rules, and he quickly did his best to put the potentially embarrassing situation behind him once he arrived on campus over the summer.

"I know I came in just trying to move on after all that,'' he said. "Just put it to the side and move on to the next thing. I just kind of put that to the side and just started focusing on how can I get better and help the team right away. That was my main focus.''

One of the first teammates the 5-foot-11, 206-pound Collins met and worked out with was fellow running back Jonathan Williams. The two have since forged a mutually-beneficial friendship, both on and off the field.

Williams entered the season as what Bielema called the team's "go-to'' back after a freshman season last year spent backing up incumbents Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo. So far this season, the 6-foot, 222-pound sophomore has lived up to Bielema's preseason billing - rushing for an average of 138.5 yards through two games, third in the SEC.

While some running backs might have a concern about sharing the workload with a talented underclassman, Williams has embraced his shared spotlight with Collins. The two regularly signal each other for breaks during games, and they've both received plenty of carries through the first two.

Collins leads the Razorbacks with 45 carries, while Williams has 35. Regardless of who has more attempts, Williams knows splitting the carries is a key factor in why he feels fresh.

"I saw the way that Knile and Dennis and Ronnie Wingo worked together,'' Williams said. "There was no animosity between those guys, as well. The whole running back group jells well together. Everybody is going to get carries.''

In what has been a run-focused offensive system under Bielema so far, there have been plenty of carries to go around. In fact, after falling behind to Samford in the third quarter last week, Arkansas didn't attempt a single pass in the fourth quarter while rallying for a 31-21 win.

The Razorbacks rushed 20 times for 163 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 55-yard run by Collins during a drive that ended with his first touchdown.

"He's a big playmaker, that's for sure,'' said quarterback Brandon Allen. "Between him and Jonathan, they're a great 1-2 punch. They definitely keep defenses honest with the run game, and they're able to make big plays when we need them.''

Collins said he has been surprised by the quick success he's had so far, but he's also aware that the team's strength of schedule jumps notably next week at Rutgers - followed by the SEC opener against Texas A&M.

"I know I've got to stay humble about it's because it's the beginning of the season,'' Collins said. "I've got to prepare myself for the next game. I can't keep thinking about past games ... I appreciate everything my team has done for me to help me get that, and I'm honored, but I've got to move on.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0114web.jpg SOCCER: JV Lady Zebras edge Verdigris, 2-1

    Claremore sophomore forward Brylee Brasher may have felt a little out of position Monday night during the junior varsity game against Verdigris.
    Normally, starting in the goal for the Lady Zebras varsity team, Brasher came out of her comfort zone to start at forward for the Claremore JV.
    The position switch proved to be a great decision for head coach Robin Sutherland, as Brasher showed a tenacity on offense that led to Claremore’s 2-1 win over Verdigris.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Claremore’s Stone leads NSU tennis to MIAA title

    Amanda Stone was a player the last time Northeastern State won a conference title in tennis. This time, she’s the coach.
    Thanks to a 9-0 rout of Lindenwood on Saturday, No. 31 Northeastern State claimed no worse than a share of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championship.

    April 16, 2014

  • Vian's Rowdy Simon seeks playing time in Tulsa backfield

    The Tulsa football team practiced for two hours on Saturday and finished the workout with a 102-play scrimmage.

    Whereas last Saturday's scrimmage was dominated by the Tulsa defense, today's scrimmage session was a more balanced. The Tulsa offense scored on 10 of 21 possessions, including six touchdowns and four field goals, and the Tulsa defense had two takeaways.

    April 16, 2014

  • FOOTBALL: Tulsa-Tulane season opener moved to Aug. 28

    The American Athletic Conference announced today that the Tulsa-Tulane football game, scheduled for the first weekend of the 2014 season, will be played on Aug. 28 at The University of Tulsa's H.A. Chapman Stadium.

    April 16, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Arkansas cruises past SFA, 7-2

    The Arkansas baseball team (23-15) jumped out to an early lead Tuesday evening and never looked back, picking up a 7-2 win over Stephen F. Austin (15-21) at Baum Stadium.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hornbeak leaving OU men's basketball program

    In a surprising decision, sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak informed Oklahoma’s coaching staff on Tuesday he will transfer at the end of the spring semester.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rave reviews following OU's spring game

    Oklahoma didn’t play a game as much as it put on a show Saturday at Owen Field. At least, that was the intent.

    April 16, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Sooners outlast Cowboys in 18-inning marathon

    The longest game at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium lasted 18 innings between the Bedlam rivals. The Oklahoma Sooners converted three runs in the top of the 18th to come away with a 12-9 victory.

    April 16, 2014

  • Locust Grove cleans house, ousts four coaches

    Locust Grove High School has relieved head wrestling coach Johnny Cook and head boys basketball coach Ronnie Maple of their coaching duties, school sources said Tuesday.

    April 16, 2014

AP Video