In addition to joining Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden as one of three backs to rush for 1,000 yards each of their first three seasons in their SEC careers, Collins has another talent: He’s an Irish dancer.
RENTON — Forget about the feel-good story or the comeback tale. That isn’t why you want to root for this kid.
This isn’t about jerking tears, pulling heartstrings or inspiring a generation of underdogs.
Seahawks in 2016 draft
Round 1, Pick 31
OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M | Bio
Round 2, Pick 49
DT Jarran Reed, Alabama | Bio
Round 3, Pick 90
RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame | Bio
Round 3, Pick 94
TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State | Bio
Round 3, Pick 97
OL Rees Odhiambo, Boise State | Bio
Round 5, Pick 147
DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland | Bio
Round 5, Pick 171
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas | Bio
Round 6, Pick 215
C Joey Hunt, TCU | Bio
Round 7, Pick 243
WR Kenny Lawler, Cal | Bio
Round 7, Pick 247
RB Zac Brooks, Clemson | Bio
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However, if you are a Seahawks fan, you should still have a vested interest in Alex Collins making this football team. And the reason is simple: Your personal entertainment.
On Saturday afternoon, Seattle selected the Arkansas running back with the 171st pick in the draft. That isn’t generally a slot reserved for future starters or even regular contributors, but hopefully there’s an exception here.
Because in addition to joining Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden as one of three backs to rush for 1,000 yards each of their first three seasons in their SEC careers, Collins has another talent: He’s an Irish dancer.
If you’re already fantasizing about the touchdown celebrations, you’re on the right track. For the past few months, Collins has been high-stepping on the football field and dance floor alike.
He took his first lesson when his high-school football coach’s daughter, Bryanne Gatewood, challenged him to do so last January. He accepted and has been sham-rockin’ it ever since (sorry).
“I tried it out, and I ended up really liking it,” said Collins, whose alter ego is Mitchell Findley — a play on famed Irish dancer Michael Flatley. “It’s a lot of fun working with them and learning something new, especially since I didn’t think I could do it.”
“Them,” by the way, is his instructor and a group of teenage girls. The 217-pound Collins stands out among his classmates like a rhino among meerkats.
According to a Sports Illustrated report, he would sometimes drive Gatewood and a friend to practice in his Hyundai once a week. And though he might be the least graceful in the group, Collins plans to keep refining his newfound hobby.
There is, after all, a practical reason for the dancing. It helps his footwork, builds his legs and helps keep him in shape in a non-torturous fashion.
“It’s both,” said Collins, when asked if the dancing was to help with football or just for fun. “I’m always on my toes and my lower body, my calf muscles and what not.”
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he didn’t know of Collins’ side passion before Saturday but added that he’ll likely see a demonstration soon. Area scout Aaron Hineline, on the other hand, was fully aware.
Hineline went on to say that the 21-year-old has “great feet” and lauded him for taking on an activity that helps in that regard. Now the question is whether Collins can find something to help him with his hands.
Yeah — if you’re wondering why a player who tallied 1,577 yards on 271 carries last year dropped to the end of the fifth round, here’s the number: 16. In his three years with the Razorbacks, Collins fumbled the ball 16 times — five as a freshman, six as a sophomore and five as a junior. For what it’s worth, he coughed up just one out of every 53 carries last season, as opposed to one out of every 34 the season before, but it is still a salient stat.
So can it be fixed?
“It’s definitely something that I put on myself to put extra work in to get better at,” Collins said. “Over my career, that’s something I really harped down on and really decreased.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was a bit more direct on whether the turnover problem can be solved.
“We’re counting on it,” said Carroll, adding that he’s optimistic coaching will help with the fumbling woes . “He won’t play on this team if he turns the ball over. Nobody will.”
That’s a major question mark. More-heralded running backs than Collins have been forced out of the league due to their inability to hold on to the football.
Still, the talent is there. And if he can make the final roster, Seahawks fans are likely to shout — scratch that — dance with joy.