Alcorn fills needs with signing class

Published 11:58 pm Thursday, February 4, 2010

LORMAN — Having a full year to get to know players makes a huge difference in recruiting, especially compared to only a few months.

Now that Alcorn State head football coach Earnest Collins has been on the job for about a year, his hard work convincing athletes to sign with the Braves is much more evident.

This past Wednesday, the Braves landed signatures from 23 high school and junior college athletes who will be joining the Braves in the fall.

“We had some needs we needed to fill, and the biggest one was on the offensive line,” Collins said. “We signed six total on Wednesday, so that was a big need we got filled.”

In addition, Collins said he needed more athletes in the secondary, and competition at quarterback.

“We got four guys for the secondary, and that was great for us. We also had to find someone to replace (Tim) Buckley. We already have two guys on campus that we like — Terrance Barnes and Darius Smith — but competition is always good, so we signed three quarterbacks.”

Collins added that those three are also talented enough athletically to play other positions if needed.

With this class done, Collins said he’s already looking forward to beginning the process again for next year’s class.

“We’ll start on the 2011 class in the next few weeks,” Collins said. “Having a year makes a world of difference. You get to know them better, they get to know you better and they get to make plans to come see you play.”

And Collins added that the process is something he enjoys a lot.

“You get to learn a lot of different personalities of the kids and the parents, and get to travel all over the place,” Collins said. “You also get to know what makes the athletes tick and their families tick, so you can know which buttons to push when they’re on the football field. You can know whether to give them a pat on the back or a kick in the butt.”

Collins’ vision for his student athletes is to have a degree in 3 1/2 years, something he said is received warmly by players and their families.

“That’s not just a recruiting ploy, it’s the truth of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “If you’re fortunate enough to be the one in a million athlete that has a chance to play (in the NFL), in our program, you wouldn’t have to worry about that final semester of your senior year, and you can go and train.

“If you’re aren’t going to play at the next level, you can do things like internships, and not have to worry about being on campus.”

Collins also said, although he’s selling early playing time right now, he’d like to build his program to the point where he’d be able to redshirt a lot of the athletes he brings in. Doing so would give those players five years in school to play four.

“That way, in our system, they’d already have a degree in 3 1/2 years, and they could use that remaining time to get a master’s degree,” Collins said.

For a complete list of all the players signed by Alcorn Wednesday, go to www.alcornsports.com.