Sam Collins started a record-setting 46 games at center for Abilene Christian, was a first-team All-American and snared several other high-profile accolades during his decorated college career.
But when Collins, now an assistant coach at Ryan, found out he was being inducted into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame, he insists the news was a complete surprise.
“The guys who have gone in before me, including several of my teammates, were really good football players and high-profile guys,” said Collins, who played at ACU from 2005 to 2009. “I never really saw myself that way.”
Clearly, everyone else had him on a higher pedestal.
Collins has known since the spring that his spot in the 2019 class was set in stone. And since Ryan (6-0, 3-0 District 4-5A Division I) plays on Thursday this week, he joked that his schedule is now free to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday night at the Hunter Welcome Center.
Joining Collins will be former teammate Jerale Badon along with Irene Squillaci-Sandoval (tennis), Meredith Garner Powell (track and field), John Kemboi (track and field) and Brandon Stover (baseball). Also being honored is the late Lindsay Dehoff Brewer (volleyball).
Al and Dottie Scott will also be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’m excited to be inducted,” Collins said. “My wife, Casey, and I were together when I played, and my parents were at every game. They were all a big part of it, too, so they are excited for me. I’m thankful to have had that support while I was there.
“I was also fortunate to be a part of a great program; we were doing a lot of great things back then.”
Collins was a no-brainer offensive line recruit for the Wildcats, having played on both of Ryan’s state championship teams in 2001 and 2002.
By his senior year in high school, he was a first-team all-state honoree. Once at ACU, he started every game while helping lift the Wildcats to a 33-13 record over that four-year stretch. Among other awards, he won the Gene Upshaw Award for being the top lineman in NCAA Division II in 2008 and the Dave Rimington Award as the top center. He was also selected to ACU’s All-Decade Team.
After his playing career was over, Collins coached at ACU from 2009 to 2013 before returning to Ryan as a coach.
Collins said the latest honor will take some getting used to, but he’s humbled by the opportunity.
“I’m excited about it. A little surprised, but definitely excited,” Collins said.