In the 2020 Alamo Bowl against the Colorado Buffaloes, then-freshman defensive lineman Alfred Collins flashed for the Texas Longhorns with a sensational leaping one-handed interception. Collins added five tackles, a half tackle for loss, and a pass broken up in what appeared to be a breakout performance.
Instead, close to three years later, the new Longhorns coaching staff is still waiting for the light to flash on and stay on for Collins, now a senior listed at 6’5 and 317 pounds.
It was never supposed to take this long for the Bastrop Cedar Creek product, a Texas legacy whose late commitment was a major coup for Texas in the 2020 recruiting class — Collins was the No. 63 prospect nationally and the No. 2 strong-side defensive end, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and finished the cycle as the second-highest rated recruit for the Horns in the class, behind only Bijan Robinson.
Following the departures of Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo to the NFL, there’s opportunity for Collins to play a much larger role in the defensive line rotation. According to head coach Steve Sarkisian, Collins is taking advantage of what projects as his final preseason camp on the Forty Acres.
Last week, Sarkisian named Collins a standout in early practices before praising his improved consistency coming out of Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I think Alfred has had a great training camp,” Sarkisian said on Monday. “Very, very impressive. For a big man, he’s extremely athletic and powerful. One of the things, if you go back to old press conferences of mine, when I’d reference Alfred, I used to talk about consistency like we’re talking about now — if he can stay consistent, he’s a dominant player, and that was always a little bit of a struggle. Well, he’s found consistency now, so he’s a factor in the run game, he’s a factor in the pass game. He provides great energy at practice.”
An area of focus for Texas is rotating more players earlier in games to help solve the second-half issues that have plagued the Horns in the Sarkisian era. For defensive linemen, that means playing at max effort for several plays with the understanding that they’ll be able to come out for a breather and won’t have to log 60 snaps per game.
If Collins can play with a higher level of effort on a more consistent basis, he can finally tap into the substantial upside that has NFL evaluators intrigued by his ability even with his lack of production over three seasons in Austin.
Bad news for @TexasFootball is they lost two drafted DTs (Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn) but good news is they’ll be replacing them with pair of seniors (Alfred Collins and T’Vondre Sweat) with even higher ceilings.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 23, 2023
#95 Collins (6052v, 307v) is a long (35 1/4 arm) & loose 5-tech… pic.twitter.com/IqnFY2HcFP