Count­ing on Collins

Ver­sa­tile senior a key for Pan­thers

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com ■

Corbin Collins is hop­ing his ver­sa­til­ity as an of­fen­sive line­man will give him a chance to play at the next level. Collins — 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior for Siloam Springs — is a valu­able hand for the Pan­thers up front. He’s able to play nearly every po­si­tion on the of­fen­sive line and also helps the Pan­thers on the de­fen­sive line.

But it’s on of­fense where Collins — a three-year starter — helps Siloam Springs the most.

“Our phi­los­o­phy is all of our of­fen­sive line­men should be able to play any po­si­tion on the of­fen­sive line,” said head coach Bran­don Craig. “They should un­der­stand the con­cepts and the schemes well enough to be able to do that.”

Collins’ ver­sa­til­ity was on dis­play this past Fri­day in the Pan­thers’ 42-7 loss to Har­ri­son.

With Goblins nose guard Hay­den Van­der­pool (6-3, 290) wreak­ing havoc on the line of scrim­mage, the Pan­thers moved Collins from his start­ing left tackle po­si­tion to cen­ter and shift­ing start­ing cen­ter Dil­lon Conn over to right guard.

“(Van­der­pool) was a hand­ful, and Corbin neu­tral­ized him,” Craig said. “(Van­der­pool) didn’t have near the game he had the past few weeks. It’s just one of those things (where) we had to do some­thing to try and neu­tral­ize the nose guard.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence was an in­ter­est­ing one for Collins, who has mostly played tackle in var­sity games, right tackle as a sopho­more and left tackle as a ju­nior and the be­gin­ning of his senior year.

“That was a big change,” Collins said. “I have a whole lot of re­spect for Dil­lon Conn be­cause I didn’t know how hard that po­si­tion ac­tu­ally was.”

Collins is ex­pected to move back to left tackle this week as Siloam Springs (1-1) plays at Van Buren (1-1) on Fri­day. But his ex­pe­ri­ence at cen­ter gives the Pan­thers and Collins op­tions down the road.

“Play­ing cen­ter the other night, that ups his stock,” Craig said. “(Col­lege coaches) see that he can snap and get off the ball and do things. That gives him an ad­van­tage.”

Collins wants to play col­lege foot­ball and has been in con­tact with Cen­tral Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas State so far. He would most likely play a guard po­si­tion or cen­ter at the next level, his coach said.

“Yeah, he’s a prospect for sure,” Craig said. “It just kind of comes down to lay­ing down some senior film and let’s get that out there mid­sea­son and see what kind of feed­back we get.”

Collins has al­ways been a big body that his teams lean on.

Com­ing up through ju­nior high ranks, it was ev­i­dent that Collins would be a player the Pan­thers would count on up front.

“He was a kid we knew we would put the ball be­hind,” said Jonathan John­son, of­fen­sive line and ninth­grade head coach. “One way or an­other, the ball was go­ing to end up be­hind Corbin any year he’s been in­volved with us.”

Collins was a 6A-West All-Con­fer­ence hon­or­able men­tion as a sopho­more and All-Con­fer­ence as a ju­nior.

When Craig ar­rived in Fe­bru­ary, he was im­pressed with what he saw in Collins, but he thought Collins could be even bet­ter.

“Coach told me to lose a lit­tle more weight be­cause I was a lit­tle too heavy,” Collins said. “I tried to do that and tried to get faster. That’s helped me a lot.”

Craig said Collins has lost around 12 pounds.

“I told him some­where be­tween 270 and 280 would be a good weight for him,” Craig said. “He stays right in that range, and it’s helped him mo­bil­ity-wise as far as be­ing able to move bet­ter and han­dle things faster. Be­cause D-lines are mov­ing so much th­ese days, you need more ag­ile of­fen­sive line­man. In the past you’d just line up and some­one would be stand­ing there and you’d just block them. That’s not how it is nowa­days — ev­ery­body’s mov­ing.”

Collins had a good off­sea­son and is do­ing a solid job lead­ing the Pan­thers’ of­fen­sive line.

“His ex­pe­ri­ence and what he’s done in the off­sea­son, as hard as he’s worked, it’s just im­pressed me,” Craig said. “He’s one of the kids when you come into the pro­gram and you look at and go, ‘Hey, this is a guy I can count on. He’s go­ing to be a leader.’ Kids are go­ing to look to him and it’s go­ing to help us to es­tab­lish things faster, and he’s done a good job with that.”

The goal has been to get Collins pre­dom­i­nately on of­fense, but there are sit­u­a­tions where he’s needed on the de­fen­sive line.

“I’m not the great­est pass rusher, but they’ll put me in third-and-short be­cause I’m a good run stop­per,” Collins said.

A high­light from last week against the Goblins was a play where Collins stuffed Har­ri­son run­ning back Gabe Huskey.

“He shed his blocker and de­stroyed the run­ning back,” Craig said.

Collins, like many other se­niors, is also a men­tor, but in this case it’s to one very special Pan­ther — his brother, sopho­more run­ning back/de­fen­sive back Cam Collins (6-0, 170).

“I try to men­tor him on what to do,” Corbin Collins said. “I see him at a new po­si­tion every week, it seems like. … Since he’s so skinny, I try to get him to eat a lot and put on some more weight be­cause if he could, he could be a real mon­ster.”

Bud Sullins/Special to the Her­ald-Leader

Siloam Springs senior Corbin Collins looks on dur­ing a break in the ac­tion at a re­cent game. Collins is a three-year starter for Siloam Springs.

Bud Sullins/Special to the Her­ald-Leader

Siloam Springs senior Corbin Collins is a col­lege prospect on the of­fen­sive line and has been talking with Cen­tral Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas State.

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