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What the return of DL Alfred Collins means for Texas

The senior from Bastrop is returning for another season learning under Bo Davis in an attempt to recreate the fifth-year success of T’Vondre Sweat.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Texas at TCU Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns defensive line is expected to return a key piece in 2024 with Alfred Collins electing to use his extra year of eligibility and return for a final season in Austin, according to a Wednesday report from Chip Brown of 247Sports. Thanks to COVID eligibility, the senior has the opportunity to spend another year on the Forty Acres.

On Friday, Collins made the decision official.

The 6’5, 317-pound lineman has appeared in 48 games in burnt orange including six starts over his four-year career, recording 86 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception.

Collins arrived on the Texas after an impressive high school career at Bastrop Cedar Creek, finishing the 2020 cycle by playing in the All-American game. A consensus four-star prospect, Collins was ranked as the No. 62 player nationally and the No. 2 strong-side defensive end, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

In 2023, Collins posted his highest overall defensive grade from PFF at 80.1 thanks to a career-high run defense grade of 71.6 and a career-high pass-rush grade of 80.8 thanks to nine defensive stops, three quarterback hits, and 18 pressures.

“I think Alfred has had a really good season. I think if if anybody would have asked me or if you guys would play back any of my interviews in the first couple of years here, one thing that I referenced a lot about Alfred, it was never about the physical ability. It was never about the talent. It was about the consistency and the consistency in which he’s capable of playing the game and I think we’ve really he’s really closed the gap on that this year — he’s playing a much more consistent brand of football,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said at the end of November.

Instead of consistency impacting the performance of Collins in 2023, nagging injuries played a role, according to Sarkisian, including one sustained against Houston in October.

The prospective return of Collins helps a Texas defensive line that will need to fill two massive holes on the interior with the departures of T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II to the 2024 NFL Draft with the selling point from the staff to Collins the ability to make the same type of improvement Sweat and Murphy did from 2022 to 2023 under the tutelage of Texas defensive line coach Bo Davis.

“I do think he has a chance to take his game to even another level and I think he has an opportunity very similar to Sweat and Murphy when [Keondre] Coburn and Moro [Ojomo] moved on. They kind of assumed that leadership role and really stepped into it and gained a lot of confidence from that. I think a similar thing could happen for Alfred.”

Collins would project as a late-round draft pick this year based on his athleticism and untapped upside, but returning to Texas and even approximating the trajectory of Sweat, the Outland Trophy winner and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, or Murphy, the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, could vault Collins into the top half of the 2025 NFL Draft, perhaps even into the first two days.