Tide asks Collins to fill in again -- and he's ready
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Oct 22, 2013 | 1561 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Landon Collins ranks third on the team in tackles with 28. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama's Landon Collins ranks third on the team in tackles with 28. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- The past two weeks have prepared Alabama sophomore Landon Collins for the opportunity he has been given.

Collins spent the past two games out of position filling in at free safety for suspended Crimson Tide star HaHa Clinton-Dix and gained game experience as a starter.

Now, Clinton-Dix is back, but the Tide need someone to replace strong safety Vinnie Sunseri, who was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament.

Next man up. Insert Collins.

“(The last two weeks have) prepared me well,” Collins said. “Got me to settle down, got me to see how fast games really are, see that once you slow down and catch your breath and look at the formations, you’ll be all right.”

For the season, Collins is third on the team with 28 tackles, including a tackle for loss. He also has five pass deflections and two quarterback hurries.

Last week, when asked about Collins' full-time move to safety, Sunseri spoke highly of him.

“He does exactly what Coach (Nick) Saban tells him to do,” Sunseri said. “He’s got really good eye control, fits the gaps when he needs to fit the gaps, has good coverage and knows exactly what he's supposed to do most of the time and having him back there with me has been really good.”

Collins didn’t begin playing strong safety until last season, his first at Alabama. Collins said Saban asked which position he would rather play, and he decided on strong because he liked the “feeling of coming in the box and playing the run more.”

Collins versatility makes him a vital asset to the team. He has played several different positions in the secondary, in addition to shining on special teams.

“Landon’s been a very good player for us in whatever role that we’ve asked him to play,” Saban said. “He’s played money. He’s played some free safety. He’s played strong safety. Strong safety is his natural position. When we had all of our players, he was Vinnie’s backup so that’s where he got the majority of his reps.”

On special teams, opponents have begun double-teaming him on coverage units, which he takes as a compliment.

“Yeah, I was expecting it,” Collins said. “But I didn’t expect it to come right off the jump at kickoff – or on punt, either. But I expect it all the time because I guess I make myself known on the field.”

Despite Sunseri’s injury happening on a kickoff in the first quarter against Arkansas, Collins doesn’t anticipate playing any less on special teams.

“Yeah, I’m not trying to get off of special teams not matter what,” he said. “I mean, I love it. I love making big tackles and making big plays for my team.”
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