FAYETTEVILLE — South Plantation (Fla.) High running back Alex Collins announced he was coming to Arkansas on Monday night.
It made Collins the 16th player to make a verbal commitment to the Razorbacks. Five junior college prospects also have signed with the Hogs.
But Collins' addition is much more significant than that for plenty of reasons:
• Collins, who is rated as one of the top running backs in the country, gives Arkansas an out-of-state headliner for Bret Bielema's first class. Every coach can use that in his first recruiting year with a program, which is typically more about survival than splashy success. Consider this: Collins wasn't even considering Arkansas until Bielema arrived at Arkansas in December. But the staff managed to convince him to visit the school last month and it obviously made an impression.
• The Razorbacks managed to pull Collins away from the state powers (Miami, Florida State and Florida), which is no easy feat. Arkansas hasn't had much - if any - success going to Florida to take a player away from those programs in the past. That changed Monday night when the former Miami commitment decided to leave his home state.
• It also helps the Razorbacks with their plans to open a pipeline from South Florida to Arkansas. The program has never recruited South Florida successfully. In fact, a few high school coaches I've talked to said they've never even seen Arkansas recruiters until this winter. But Bielema, defensive tackles coach Charlie Partridge and linebackers coach Randy Shannon have solid reputations down there because of their recruiting work for other programs. Collins is the third South Florida commitment for 2013.
• Collins also gives Arkansas an early boost in its plan to implement a run-oriented offense. The Razorbacks have done a solid job of recruiting offensive linemen this winter and Collins is the type of back Bielema needs to make it all work. He'll be part of a backfield that should also include Jonathan Williams and Kody Walker next season.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau