Texas received one last gift on National Signing Day after four-star defensive end Alfred Collins (Cedar Creek) announced his decision to play for the Longhorns over Oklahoma and Alabama.
Collins sat in his high school gym Wednesday afternoon with a couple hundred Cedar Creek students waiting for him to announce where he plans on spending his college career. He sat at a table with his parents along with a wrapped box and a black, oversized balloon set on a table a few feet in front of him.
His top three schools — Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas — were announced in alphabetical order. The Cedar Creek gymnasium is 22 miles away from the UT campus, which was evident when the gym erupted as Texas was announced as the third and final school in contention.
Before Collins made his decision, his high school highlight reel was projected on a screen.
Collins eventually walked up and popped the balloon, which sent orange powder and confetti flying. He reached inside the box to pull out a Texas hat as “The Eyes of Texas” began to play throughout the gym.
“At the end of the day, it came down to where I play,” Collins said to reporters after the announcement. “They switched down to a four-man, and I like four-man because I don’t like getting double-teamed every play. I think that’s where I fit best.”
Former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who was fired in December, was known for stubbornly sticking to a three-man front, which is partially why Texas struggled to get to the quarterback. That failure to adjust his scheme is also what eventually got Orlando fired. As Collins’ decision proves, Texas switching to that four-man front is already starting to pay off.
Collins also mentioned the importance of UT being so close to Cedar Creek, which will allow his family to easily make it to home games.
Collins is the No. 2-ranked strong side defensive end in the country, and the No. 8 overall recruit in the state of Texas, according to 247Sports. His dominant high school career earned him All-America, all-state and three-time all-district honors, including getting named a two-time Defensive Lineman of the Year for his district.
“When you turn the film on, this is a guy who just continues to get better,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said in a statement. “He’s so long and strong, but extremely athletic. He’s a starter on their basketball team and a guy that’s going to do everything right. He’s going to give his teammates everything he’s got every time he steps on the field.”
The 6-foot-5, 284-pound defensive end was selected to play against the nation’s best recruits in the Army All-American Bowl in January. In Collins’ senior year at Cedar Creek, he recorded 86 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He tallied even more tackles in his 92-tackle junior campaign en route to his 253-tackle, 18-sack high school career.
Aside from his proximity to UT, he also has another UT tie with his mother, Benita Pollard, who played on the Longhorns women’s basketball team from 1990-1994.
“With Alfred, it seems like we’ve been recruiting him for forever,” Herman said. “It’s been about two-and-a-half years. He’s from right here in Bastrop. His mom played basketball here at UT for Coach (Jody) Conradt. His dad has got a great job here in Austin. All of the boxes were checked a long time ago from a character and work-ethic standpoint.”
Collins joins four-star defensive tackle Vernon Broughton (Cy Ridge) and three-star defensive tackle Sawyer Goram-Welch (Longview) as the Longhorns’ three defensive linemen in the 2020 recruiting class.
The commitment only strengthens Texas’ recruiting class, which is No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 9 nationally, according to 247 Sports.