Wake Forest running back Alex Collins says he’s in for the biggest season of his career.
He’s a Heisman candidate, has had a breakout campaign and is now on the verge of becoming the first player in school history to lead the Tar Heels to an undefeated season in conference play.
He joins the likes of Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon and Matt Jones as Heisman Trophy winners in the ACC.
Collins will be a key player in this season’s ACC Coastal Division championship game, which is scheduled for March 2.
His teammates, however, say he’s still not where he wants to be.
Collins’ story is an inspiring one, but we should not forget the work of others.
“I’m not a big fan of making any kind of public comments about my progress.
I think it’s just to let people know that I’m still working at it.
But I’m ready for whatever it takes to make this a great year for me and to make the team,” Collins said.
“I think that’s the most important thing, is to continue to work hard and continue to put the team first, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Collins said he is committed to the TarHeels program and is happy for the opportunity to be one of its main contributors this year.
He has a bright future ahead of him.
Collins’ journey to becoming a full-time starter in the NFL began in the spring of 2012 when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic.
Collins was one of the best running backs in the country and was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Tampa-based Bucs.
He was given a one-year deal worth $2.5 million to be a full time starter for the Buccaneers.
Collins said that was his goal from the very beginning.
“That’s what was the reason why I signed, to be able to get an opportunity to play,” Collins told reporters in Tampa this summer.
“I didn’t think about anything else.
I didn’t do anything but just work hard.
I was very humble about that.”
The Bucs selected Collins in the first round of that year’s draft.
He went on to start the entire 2013 season for the team.
The following season, Collins was selected as the third running back in the draft.
A week later, Collins signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers, which he signed in March 2014.
He had a career year, rushing for more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns and catching 26 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
After the 2013 season, the Bucs traded Collins to the Tampa Lions for cornerback Prince Amukamara, a fourth-round pick and the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
That led to the Panthers signing Collins to a four-year, $35 million contract extension in 2016.
In 2017, Collins started the first five games of the season for Miami, recording 1,063 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
He finished the year with 891 rushing yards on 206 carries.
Miami also signed Collins to another contract extension that included a $14 million signing bonus, which the team said was the largest ever paid to a running back.
The Dolphins also signed him to a two-year extension in March 2018, with the remaining four years of his deal guaranteed.
His production dropped off significantly after that, however.
He averaged 1,065 rushing yards per game for the season, a total that dropped to 917 yards.
At the end of the 2018 season, Miami signed Collins back to a three year contract extension worth $16 million, with $6 million guaranteed.
The Panthers and Buccaneers signed Collins and Amukamura to new contracts, which included an additional $14.5M in guaranteed money in 2021.
While Miami’s 2017 season was a bit of a disappointment, Collins’ production increased with each passing game, including the playoffs.
Collins rushed for 1,824 yards and 17 touchdowns in a playoff loss to Atlanta in the Super Bowl.
Consequently, Collins got a look in free agency, signing with the Detroit Lions on March 31, 2019.
He played in 13 games for Detroit, totaling 691 rushing and 593 receiving yards.
He added 542 rushing yards against the Atlanta Falcons in the Lions’ championship game loss.
That was followed by the first of three stints in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.
Following the season in the CFL, Collins transferred to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2020, where he caught 49 passes for 589 yards and four touchdowns in 25 games.
He also added 1,092 rushing yards.
Collins made his NFL debut in Week 5, 2016 against the Cleveland Browns.
He caught two passes for