Every team has a list of needs going into recruiting season and this year for Southern Miss one of the biggest needs is building quality depth along the offensive line. They went a long way toward building that depth this weekend when Hinds (Raymond, MS) CC offensive line prospect Thomas Collins committed to the Eagles. In this exclusive interview with BigGoldNation.com he talks about his commitment and the decision making process.
"I made it official yesterday (Friday)," he said. "I had been discussing it with my coaches all week."
Collins played his high school football at Jim Hill (Jackson, MS) High before moving to Hinds. When local players sign with Mississippi junior college programs you never know where the offers will come from to play senior college football. The Mississippi JUCO league is among the best in the nation and recruiters from across the country scout the different programs heavily.
Playing close to home where family and friends could come to games was definitely a factor in the decision making process for Collins, but it wasn't the deciding factor.
"I was kind of 50/50 with it," he said. "I told myself that if my best opportunity to better myself was to leave Mississippi that I was fine with that. But, I'm really glad this opportunity came for me to stay close to home."
Collins was heavily recruited by a number of programs including Louisiana, WKU, Troy, USF and others.
"Southern Miss was my first official offer," he said. "They want me to come in and work."
Southern Miss assistant head coach Steve Buckley serves at Collins' recruiting coach.
"I've only met him a couple of times," Collins said of Buckley. "Once at practice and once at the field house when he came by to talk with me and one of my team-mates (Norman Price).
"He shot it to me straight," Collins said of Buckley. "He told me that he wanted me to come down there and go to work to help them get back to the top. He didn't try to sell me some sort of dream he was just honest with me. Ever since then I felt a real connection with the program."
At 6-foot-5, 320-pounds Collins can play either on the interior line at guard or on the edge at tackle.
Collins is scheduled to graduate in December and will enrol at Southern Miss in January.
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