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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keegan

Keegan: Collins large on heart

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Playground legends, in fact and fiction, have the greatest nicknames. Ice, SkyLab, The Goat, Black Jesus, White Jordan, and the best of all, Tick Tick Boom. When he released his shot he'd say, "Tick, Tick," and when it swished through the net, he'd add "Boom."

Some playground legends head off to college and play on television. A precious few even make it to the NBA after that. Others go to Europe to make enough money to delay entering the rat race. Some return to the playgrounds to try to take back the court.

All it takes is one flaw for the NBA evaluators to look elsewhere. It doesn't take them long to label players, usually quite accurately, and often with a disdainful tone: "'Tweener. ... Flat shooter. ... Who's he going to guard in the NBA? Name one player he can guard. ... Short arms. ... First step isn't quick enough."

Anthony Collins, Kansas University's massive, personable left tackle, loved to play basketball back in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, even though he didn't project as a Division I player in that sport. Finally, his friends talked him into playing football in time for him to play his senior year. He's on a path to the NFL. Yet, in a survey in the KU football media guide about what he liked best about football, Collins said, "nothing."

No non-conference road games for the 'Hawks

The good news for KU is that for the second time in three years, the Jayhawks won't play a road game until conference play.

"That's right," Collins said when asked about that. "Nothing. I was always a basketball player. When my friends told me I had a chance to make some money in football, then I was interested."

First came scholarship money. Collins credits former KU assistant coach Earnest Collins, now working for University of Central Florida, with recruiting him to Kansas, which he chose over Iowa State.

Doesn't Collins' story make you wonder how many other basketball players could make a living in football, the way Antonio Gates has for the San Diego Chargers? Gates starred in the NCAA Tournament for Kent State, but did not play college football.

Reader poll

Which true freshman would you most like to see playing come Sept. 1?

  • WR Dezmon Briscoe 44% 336 votes
  • WR Johnathan Wilson 21% 162 votes
  • CB Chris Harris 12% 96 votes
  • DE Jake Laptad 4% 35 votes
  • RB Carmon Boyd-Anderson 14% 109 votes
  • Other 1% 14 votes

752 total votes.

Watching KU power forward Darnell Jackson play, it's difficult not to picture him in pads and a helmet. Yet, the thought of him catching passes or rushing the quarterback never was more than a fantasy until the tackle friends call "A.C." was asked if ever wondered how many others could make the switch he made.

"Darnell Jackson," Collins answered quickly. "We're good friends and I always tell him he's got to play football. He'd be a great defensive end or tight end. He's mobile. He came in big and shed a lot of pounds to get faster. If he gained that weight back and put on some more muscle, he'd be ready to be a defensive end or a tight end. But the thing about football is it takes a lot of heart to play football."

Who displays more heart on the basketball court than Jackson?

"Yes, he does," Collins agreed. "If he could bring that to football, he could do it."

Jackson can't afford to think yet about how he projects as a football player yet.

Fortunately for the football team, Collins made the switch in high school, and because of that, finding someone to rush the passer is the most important search for the Jayhawks. Without Collins, finding someone to protect the passer's blind side would overshadow that need.

Comments

JayCeph 14 years, 3 months ago

I initially thought this article was about Sherron. Weird...

bmcmich1 14 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I assume that's what most people thought upon reading the headline...let's hope our gridiron Collins performs as well in Manhattan as our hardwood one did! Here's to a great season Anthony!!

Eliott Reeder 14 years, 3 months ago

Keegan is all over the place in this article. I like Keegan. He's crazy.

ralsterKUMed95 14 years, 3 months ago

This makes me wonder what the future holds for Darnell Jackson. If he has a stellar season and becomes a perimeter shooting threat, what a matchup problem, at least in college--who knows how NBA scouts will look at him AFTER his senior season. He could certainly do MORE than Ben Wallace (who he idolizes). So what about football--obviously he cannot dilute his focus from bball to try to do football for KU also,and as mentioned, his weight for his position may(DTackle) or may not(TEnd) be an issue.

Article totally FORGOT to mention another great TEnd who played bball in college--Tony Gonzales played bball at Cal, and as an ode to that experience, that is why he "dunks" the football over the goal post crossbar after he scores a TD--KC Chiefs fans know all this.

Jeremy LeMaster 14 years, 3 months ago

For the past few years I have thought about Darnell being a tight end for us. I would love to see him give it a shot. I think he is a good college bball player but I don't see him making the NBA. Derek Fine is a good Tight End, but I think Darnell could be one of the best in College Football.... give Reesing another target out there.

And Ralster... didn't Tony G also play College Football? I believe he was talking about a player that made a switch to football from College basketball.... could be wrong though.

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