2012 Defensive Star: Landon Collins
Dutchtown coach discusses stud safety’s versatile game
By CASEY GISCLAIR
Tiger Rag Recruiting Contributor
When you’re among the top five prep football players in Louisiana, you know you can play at a high level.
When you’re among the top five in America? That’s when you’re on Class of 2012 defensive back Landon Collins’ level.
That’s exactly the rare air the Dutchtown High School prospect is breathing, as he recently was named a five-star prospect by recruiting Web site Rivals.com.
That particular recruiting service has given that title to just four other players so far in this year’s recruiting class.
“He’s just a tremendous athlete,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said in a recent interview. “He’s big and strong and he can run. All of that and he’s got a good football head on his shoulders. He’s about all that anyone could ever ask for. He’s the total package on the field.”
Collins plays all over the field for Dutchtown, but colleges are most interested in the 6-foot and 210-pound prospect at safety.
The coach said Collins has spent time as both a free and strong safety in high school. No matter the position he plays in the secondary, Saia said one thing is a constant - his ability to hit.
Collins recorded 102 tackles with 15 coming for a loss in his junior season.
“Oh yeah, he’s going to hit you,” Saia said with a laugh. “He’s definitely going to hit you. There’s no question about that.”
But Collins isn’t all upper body strength - he has the ability to run, too.
Saia said his prospect has a clocked 4.45 40-yard dash time and “isn’t exactly lacking in coverage” when receivers are able to beat Dutchtown’s cornerbacks and get down the field.
Combine that with his natural ability to always find the football and you end up with a prospect that recorded five interceptions, recovered four fumbles and also deflected close to a dozen passes.
“He can cover. He doesn’t get beat too often, I promise you,” Saia said. “Truthfully, there isn’t much he can’t do, to be honest with you. He’s just one of those kids who does well at whatever you ask him to do.”
Because of that, Saia said there isn’t any major thing Collins will need to work in heading toward his senior season.
The coach said he and his staff will instead focus on fine-tuning all of the parts of his game to make him a more college-ready player.
“We’re going to work on getting him to just learn the game,” Saia explained. “Just learning the finer points of the game. He’s going to be the quarterback of our defense, making all of our calls. We just want him to be in there studying film and just knowing our opponents. Physically, he’s there. Physically, he’s got that. He’s just got to learn the game a little better.”
With so much high school success, Collins has collected a laundry list of collegiate scholarships, which include LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, and USC, among others.
“I think everybody in America wants him,” Saia said. “But that list is the guys he’s looking at the hardest. But really every day somebody new calls. He’s pretty highly recruited. I think he’s going to have his chance to pick where he wants to go, and honestly, he’s done a good job of handling that so far. He’s not getting a fat head and he’s still working real hard.”
The coach said that he doesn’t receive much feedback about who is in the lead for Collins’ services, but he then added a list of criteria that his player will look for in picking a college.
That list is good news for LSU fans - because the Tigers’ program fits everything Collins is seeking.
But then again, so does virtually everyone else on his list, as well.
“I think he wants to play in the SEC,” Saia said. “And I think obviously he wants to play for a team that’s got a shot to win a national championship. I think those are the two things that are most important to him.”
But one thing is certain, according to Saia - whoever gets Collins is a team that is instantly improving its chances to succeed for the next half-decade.
“God has blessed him with a ton of ability,” Saia said. “But the thing that impresses me is just his work ethic and the way that he comes to us every day to get better. He’s already qualified academically. He works hard on the track. He works hard in the weight room. He just wants to be a player. He loves the game and he wants to be special. When you have talent like that and you want to be special, I think that’s someone that any coach would love to have.”