In the end, South Plantation running back Alex Collins made the decision he felt was best for him, not the one so many in South Florida, most notably his mother, felt he should make.
It came down to Arkansas, Miami and Wisconsin, he said, and then Arkansas and Miami, and he picked the Razorbacks, much to the chagrin of Andrea McDonald, whose lawyer Thursday in a statement categorized an extremely happy time for Alex Collins as “a difficult time” for her.
“I always wanted to be my own man, make my own decision,” Collins said. “And if it was going out of state, then that’s the case.”
His mom, on the other hand, always wanted him to sign with Miami. Collins admitted Thursday that he was pressured by her into verbally committing to the Hurricanes in January 2012.
“I was. That’s another reason why I backed off,” he said, referring to his decision to decommit last November. Collins also said he didn’t want to make it look like he was “going behind my commitment” by taking a look elsewhere.
His mom wanted him close to home and Collins said Miami’s coaching staff stressed that in their recruiting of him.
“They would make statements, like, ‘It’s so close to home. Why wouldn’t you want to play here for the home team?’” he said. “I was, like, ‘OK, I understand where you’re coming from. I would like to make everybody happy, but this about me.’
“That’s why my mom is so biased toward Miami, because they did a really good job of recruiting her and me.”
Collins said ‘Canes coaches were stunned he didn’t sign with UM.
“They had everyone on their side encouraging,” he said. “It would have been nice to make everybody happy, but ultimately it’s about me and where I want to go.”
Collins said he was troubled by the speculation among some people that South Plantation coach Doug Gatewood, who has a friendship with Arkansas assistant coach Charlie Partridge, steered him to sign with the Razorbacks.
“Everything that Coach Gatewood has done for me, he has done for every single player on the football team. Every single player can vouch for him. He doesn’t treat anyone different,” Collins said. “I don’t understand why people make comments about him treating me differently. You can interview every last person, including the water boys.”
Gatewood, like Collins’ mom, wasn’t at Thursday’s ceremony. Collins said Gatewood chose not to attend because the coach didn’t want to distract from his special day.
“He wanted me to enjoy this. It was my day. I came a long way,” Collins said. “It was upsetting, you know, because my mom’s been with me through the whole process, and my coach has been there.
“It's hard when I'm looking around the crowd and I have all my friends, everyone here to support me, and the biggest factors weren't here. It's hard. But it's understandable."