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Commitment Spotlight: Three-star running back Elijah Collins

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“I chose Michigan State because it feels like home.”

Installment No. 12 in The Only Colors Commitment Spotlight series features running back Elijah Collins, a three-star commit from University of Detroit Jesuit class of 2018.

Collins verbally committed to Michigan State in late September, following his unofficial visit to campus for the prime time matchup against Notre Dame the previous weekend.

“I chose Michigan State because it feels like home,” Collins said. “When I attended the Notre Dame game and I was down on the field, I knew from that point on I wanted to go there. Also, after that, both of my parents told me they thought I would choose there.”

Collins further elaborated that his parents supported his decisions, but when they told him they can see him attending MSU, it just felt right, which lead to his commitment.

Michigan State was close to home as well, but other schools had his interest. Before making his decision to come to East Lansing, the 6-foot, 195-pound running back was also heavily considering other Big Ten schools, namely Iowa and Wisconsin.

Additionally, Collins — who is the No. 1 ranked running back in Michigan and No. 19 player overall according to 247Sports — had scholarship offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Boston College, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Central Michigan and many more.

The recruiting process has its up and downs, Collins explains.

“It was very exciting meeting and talking to all of the coaches,” Collins said about his overall recruitment. “Toward the end, it did become (somewhat) stressful as people started to commit.”

Collins is grateful for his experiences and the relationships he is already building with the offensive coaching staff. He is looking forward to furthering those bonds.

“Me and Coach (Dave) Warner talk often, as well as coach (Terrence) Sameul,” he said. “As far as me and Coach Dantonio, he has been to my school to visit and talk to my parents on numerous occasions. Also we have talked over the phone plenty of times.”

The running back position was a big area of need for the Spartans’ 2018 class when Collins committed in September. Gerald Holmes was in his final season and LJ Scott’s future was uncertain as the NFL Draft was a possibility.

Flash forward to the present and we know that Scott is the returning starter and will once again be the lead back for the Spartans this upcoming season. We also know that Madre London recently announced that he has left the team, opening the door for the younger talent in the backfield.

The opportunity is certainly there for Collins to earn a spot in the field in 2018, as the No. 2 role with be up for grabs when summer camp opens. Weston Bridges, Connor Heyward and Noah Sargent are all returning, while fellow 2018 recruit La’Darius Jefferson could be a wild card at the position.

Collins is ready to work hard and show us what he can do.

“(I want) to come in and simply earn my jersey by working hard and giving it everything I’ve got,” Collins told me. “Hopefully I’ll be able to play with LJ, as well as learn from him.”

He also let me know that he has some lofty goals for his first year on campus and that he wants to “make history as a freshman.”

For those wondering, the current Michigan State record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a freshman is 16 by Sedrick Irvin in 1996. Perhaps that is something Collins has his eye on, or maybe he is looking to rewrite the history books in other ways. But how will he do it?

Collins is a confident player. He has many layers to his game that he believes will help him be successful at the college level.

“I do it all, honestly,” Collins said. “I’m able to run inside, as well as beat people off of the edge, as well as be involved in the passing game.”

There have been some extremely talented running backs to play for Michigan State over the past decade or so: Edwin Baker, Larry Caper, Le’Veon Bell, Jeremy Langford, LJ Scott, etc. Collins is hoping to have his name added to that list, and he definitely has the talent, tools and attitude to do so.

Meanwhile, Collins is finishing up his senior year at U of D. He will enroll at MSU in the summer, and continues to build up his friendships with his fellow 2018 recruiting classmates.

On a personal level, Collins has learned work ethic and how to be successful from within his family. He is close to his relatives and looks up to his role model: his older cousin.

“My cousin, Richmond, is my role model because he was everything I wanted to be when I was a kid,” Collins said. “He was there to always make sure I was doing what I needed to do to be successful. He also pushed me to be a better athlete and person.”

More fun facts about Collins: He is a two-sport athlete, who has led the U of D Cubs basketball team to an 18-3 record so far, as the team’s point guard. He was also a part of the 2016 Class A state championship team with current Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston.

He has thought about walking onto the MSU basketball team, but is focusing on football right now.

What does being a Spartan mean to Collins? He’ll leave you with this quote:

“It means a lot to me,” Collins said. “I have a few relatives that went there, a couple family friends as well, and numerous people that said they are willing to strongly support me there.

“I’m going to give my all for this team.”

You will absolutely want to watch his senior highlights tape. Pay attention to his smooth cuts, vision and his ability to hit “home runs.”

Be sure to get to know the rest of the 2018 class through our Commitment Spotlight Series.