Landon Collins has already received the kind of accolades and scholarship offers most football players only dream about.
Collins was a Class 5A All-State selection and the Defensive Most Valuable Player on The Advocate’s All-Metro team for Classes 5A-4A as a junior.
Going into his senior year, the 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker is everybody’s preseason All-American. He is considered to be the top recruit in Louisiana’s 2012 class. Rivals.com rates Collins as the No. 2 safety prospect and No. 17 overall recruit nationally.
There’s one more adjective that will also describe Collins this fall — running back.
“I bring power to everything I do,” Collins said. “I don’t back away from hitting people on defense. It’s going to be the same way when I’m on offense.”
Making Collins a two-way player may be a risk, but it’s one Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said the Griffins need to make.
“He’s going to have to touch the ball on offense,” Saia said. “We’re going to get it to him and give him the chance to make things happen. I think he’s excited about it.”
To say that Collins is excited about pulling double duty is an understatement. A Hurricane Katrina evacuee who moved from the New Orleans area to Ascension Parish before high school, Collins had his heart set on playing running back when he came to Dutchtown.
But the Griffins already had two high profile running backs in current Alabama player Eddie Lacy and Southern California commitment Kelvin York. University of Louisiana at Lafayette signee Effrem Reed, also a 5A all-state pick last fall, was already waiting in the wings.
“When I was growing up, I always played both ways and I was a running back,” Collins said. “Coach (Saia) took me to the side and told me I wasn’t going to get a chance to play running back then. He talked to me about playing defense. I’ve got no complaints about how it worked out.”
Collins likes contact. He also doesn’t mind answering some tough questions about recruiting, either. His finalists — listed alphabetically are Alabama, Florida LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas.
Collins, who carries 2.8 GPA, has already met the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards, and he plans a college major in mass communications.
Those hoping Collins commits to a college this summer apparently will be out of luck. He plans to announce his decision in January at the Under Armour All-America Game.
“I take it (recruiting) as motivation,” Collins said. “And I’m taking it one step at a time. If you let it be stressful, it can cause problems.
“My family keeps me humble. I cut the grass, take out the trash … all that stuff. They make sure I stay busy and do everything I need to do.”
Summer camps will get Collins out of some of those household chores. He attended a camp at Alabama last week and is set to attend camps at LSU and Florida in July.
For Collins, the summer is about more than camps — it’s also preparation for the 2011 season that includes the challenge of a new district with Catholic High, rivals East Ascension and St. Amant, along with McKinley and Woodlawn.
“I love workouts … it’s the thing that makes you better,” Collins said during a break from lifting weights on Wednesday morning. “And it’s something that pays off in the fourth quarter of a game. That’s when you need it the most.”
The sting of losing a quarterfinal game to Westgate-New Iberia also motivates Collins.
“We’ve got to do better,” Collins said. “We had a great team last year, and we wound up losing when I thought we shouldn’t have.
“I didn’t think we played our hearts out like we could have. I’m not exactly sure what happened. We’ve got to do better.”
Saia said there is room for Collins to do better, offering a comparison to another former Griffin — current LSU defensive back Eric Reid.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete, but I think Landon can become a better football player,” Saia said. “When it comes to the mental part of the game I think he can still grow.
“The thing we had with Eric Reid was he not only knew his responsibilities, but he knew everyone else’s too. He’d line guys up and was ready for whatever came at us. I think Landon can get to that point, too. And I think he’s going to be good at running the football.”
Collins can’t help recalling one of his first practices at Dutchtown. Because he was doing so well on sprints and other drills, he got promoted to the front row with then seniors Lacy and York.
Now it falls on Collins to be the leader of the pack.