BEAVERTON, Ore. — Nico Collins, the top prospect in the state of Alabama, has publicly declared Michigan as his leader. For a long period of time, Alabama was the favorite inside Collins’ mind.
Collins, a 4-star wide receiver from Clay-Chalkville High School (Pinson, Ala.), told SEC Country at The Opening, the premier summer camp in the nation, held at Nike’s world headquarters, that before he started taking trips to places such as Michigan and Georgia, the Crimson Tide led.
“Alabama was there at the top,” Collins said. “That was the only team that showed me the most love back then. They were the leader until I started going on all of these trips out of state and seeing what else was out there.”
From those trips out of state, Collins has had a chance to interact with 5-star Wolverines QB commit Dylan McCaffrey. He has been in the ear of Collins this week at The Opening, pitching him the opportunity to play together in college.
“Nico is awesome,” McCaffrey told SEC Country. “Obviously, I really want him to come to Michigan, but he’s a great dude and I want him to go where he thinks is a fit. We’ve built a good relationship, and I think he fits at Michigan. I would love to spend four years with him in the future. I’d love to throw to him. He’s such a good target and such a good guy. I think he’d really fit there just from hanging around with him.”
McCaffrey continued on what he thinks the Wolverines’ chances are for Collins.
“I think we do have a good chance. I’m just going to keep pushing him. I couldn’t really peek into his mind, but I think we have a great chance and I’m keep pushing him to make that decision.”
The Crimson Tide coaching staff isn’t going down without a fight. Alabama is still recruiting him hard, he said. In fact, Alabama is pursuing Collins harder than it ever has before.
“Right now, I think it’s getting crazier with them knowing my top group,” Collins said. “They’re still trying to get me so they are bringing the heat. They’ve always been recruiting me hard ever since I was in the 10th grade, which is when they first offered me. Now, I guess they know they have competition — Michigan and Georgia — so they are coming at me harder.”
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound prospect said he speaks with an Alabama coach every single day. Offensive line coach Mario Cristobal has communicated with Collins both days that the receiver has been participating in drills at The Opening.
The staff is aware that there’s still some work to do in order to land Collins on National Signing Day, which is when he is planning on committing. The main message the staff is telling him is to not forget about Alabama and keep his options open.
He does admit that despite Michigan being the No. 1 school right now, Alabama is not far behind.
“Alabama is still up there real close,” Collins said. “There’s just something about Alabama. It’s a great place to be.”
Ultimately, Collins’ desire to explore outside of the Yellowhammer state may be Alabama’s kryptonite with its chances for the elite receiver.
“I really like going out of state,” Collins said. “Going to Michigan and Georgia and seeing what else is out there, I kind of love that. I love seeing what else is out there.”
Collins is rated as the nation’s No. 13 wide receiver. If Alabama misses on Collins, the Crimson Tide is still strongly in the mix for 4-star prospects Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Alabama has a commitment from 6-foot-6 wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, who is also a 4-star prospect.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.