Michigan Wolverines football's Nico Collins talks about how happy he is to be a Houston Texan.
{{ timeAgo('2021-05-03 12:30:00 -0500') }} football Edit

Emotional Nico Collins 'Blessed' To Have Played For Jim Harbaugh At U-M

Michigan Wolverines football wide receiver Nico Collins was a fan favorite during his time in Ann Arbor, not only due to his on-field prowess but also because of the way he carried himself off it.

His work ethic was never once called into question from 2017-19 at a time when the same thing couldn’t be said for several of his teammates. Collins reeled in 37 catches for 729 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns in 2019 as a junior, and was thought to be good enough to go pro following the year.

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Michigan Wolverines football
Michigan Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh has compiled a 49-22 record during his six years at U-M. (Per Kjeldsen)

He chose to return to Ann Arbor for his senior campaign, however, though the Big Ten’s original cancellation of the football season derailed his plans and he never wound up suiting up in 2020.

The Houston Texans nevertheless had seen enough film on Collins to know they wanted him, and subsequently drafted him midway through the third round of this past weekend’s NFL Draft.

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“I’m just excited to come in here and be a Texan,” an emotional Collins said after Houston took him. “I’m speechless right now. I’m anxious to get to work because this is a dream come true and a blessing … it belongs to God.

“I’m happy and blessed. This was a call I had been waiting on my entire life. My emotions are running high right now and I’m speechless.”

One of the attributes that has many believing Collins is bound to succeed in the NFL is the excellent size he possesses. His 6-4, 215-pound stature made him a lethal downfield threat at Michigan, and that was evidenced by his tendency to create big plays.

His 16.6 yards per catch in 2018 as a sophomore was the fifth best mark in the Big Ten, and his 19.7 yards per reception as a junior in 2019 checked in second in the conference.

It unsurprisingly made him an appealing target in the end zone as well, hauling in 13 touchdown grabs from 2018 to 2019.

“My size is an advantage,” he explained to reporters when asked specifically about his height. “That’s a part of my game that I excel in — I play big and I play physical. I’m glad Houston believed in me and picked me up, because I’m ready to come in and get to work.

“It’s [my height] an opportunity for the quarterback to find me in the end zone, because I use my size the best way I know how.”

Collins is by no means a finished product or even close to it (who is?), and worked on his game significantly at the January Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. With no 2020 on-field film, the annual event was an excellent opportunity for the Birmingham, Ala., native to work out in front of scouts one last time prior to the draft.

“The Senior Bowl week was very important to me because I had opted out of the 2020 season, and it was a chance to showcase what I had been working on in the offseason,” Collins explained.

“That’s what I did that whole week. I grabbed the attention of the Houston Texans and they wound up getting me. I worked on little things — improving on everything to become a better overall wide receiver.

“I wanted to be the best version of myself on the football field.”

Notes

Jim Harbaugh’s ties to the NFL and past experience in the league has paid dividends for numerous past Wolverines come draft time, and sure enough, Collins gave a shout out to the Michigan head man and the way he prepares his players for the next level.

“Coach Harbaugh runs his program like an NFL team, having come over from San Francisco,” the wide receiver said. “He gave me advice and got me ready for the NFL and the next step, and life after football.

“Harbaugh did a lot for me and I was thankful he was my coach. I’m blessed that I played under him.”

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