Sept. 10, 2007
By Erica Beck
Washington State Athletic Media Relations
In the space of 100 yards, there are 11 collegiate football players suited up in the Cougar crimson and gray with only their number and position on the field to distinguish them. Get them out of uniform and a sudden wealth of personality and individuality is opened up. Senior tight end Jed Collins is one such package.
"I try to maintain a diversified approach to my college experience," said Collins. "It's tough to call myself a total football player. I enjoy the game and I like it a lot but I am definitely a student first and an athlete second. I also like to have a good time and have a variety of interests outside of my sport."
Collins is an accounting major and is on track to graduate in May 2008 due to his extra work during the summer. He is a member of the accounting fraternity and is looking at pursuing a master's degree after graduation but hasn't made any concrete decisions.
"The worst thing that could happen is I graduate with an understanding of how to do my taxes and that's a good thing," laughed Collins.
On the field, Collins has just as much versatility as he does off it. Washington State recruited him as a linebacker which factored into his decision to choose WSU over other universities recruiting him at the fullback position. After playing as a true freshman in his first semester of college life, Collins played tailback in the spring then was moved to fullback and even played a little short-yardage running back before finally settling in his current tight end position. He has also played on all four special teams and is slated to be on the punt, kick-off and kick-off return special teams this fall.
"I'm a football player. I don't have the greatest physical attributes; I'm a little short, a little chubby and a little slow, but I can play football. I can play the game; I know how to do that," said Collins.
The WSU coaching staff was aware of Collins' abilities from the beginning and has learned to appreciate his unorthodox football attitude. Collins likes to crack jokes and lighten the moment, making sure his teammates are focused but enjoying the time on the field. However, both Collins and his coaches know that when the ball is snapped Collins will get the job done.
Considering Collins' current status as the Cougars' jack-of-all-positions, his start in football was an untraditional one. Collins' didn't step on a football field in uniform until he was in the ninth grade at Mission Viejo in San Juan Capistrano, California, due to his mother's concerns for his safety. Memories of being needled for his inability to distinguish the difference between hip and thigh pads still reside with Collins as do recollections of his first days of practice at offensive tackle.
"They had a catching competition and I won it. That's when I became more of an athlete than a lineman," said Collins. "If I would have dropped the ball, I could have been 285 and had my hand down permanently so I'm glad I won that one."
After his initiation into football, Collins put together four years of impressive play in his prep career and earned multiple honors and awards for his prowess on the field. That ability has transferred to his career in Division I and the Pacific-10 Conference, especially during the 2006 season. Collins played in all 12 games, totaled 306 yards receiving and scored five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).
A game that sticks out in Collins' memory was the upsetting of a ranked Oregon team last fall. He scored two touchdowns and the emotion and energy of the game has stuck with Collins.
"Hopefully we'll have some wins like that this year and we'll get to enjoy that again," said Collins. "We've had a rough couple of years and so we're hoping to turn that around and give Coug fans a year to get excited about."
The Cougar football squad has the pieces in four-year starter Alex Brink at quarterback, a variety of receiving weapons and a new emphasis on special teams.
"If we get the third side of the ball sound, I think it'll help our team a lot."
Regardless of what happens on the field, Collins will still have his flair off of it. After football wrapped up last season, Collins shaved his head and sported earrings in support of his love for the punk lifestyle. A Christmastime talk with the father put an end to that and Collins has longer hair now, averaging one haircut a year.
Collins is a self-proclaimed non-stylist and has been receiving a few tips over the months from some of his more fashion-wise teammates. Whether Collins can determine what colors match and whether frayed jackets are in or out is irrelevant. Just ask him what the difference is between hip and thigh pads are; he'll have the answer.