BATON ROUGE, La. (BVM) – Rickie Collins is a four-star, top-200 quarterback in the Class of 2023 who had a unique journey in his recruiting process. However, that journey has led him on a path back home.
Collins, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana native, will suit up for his hometown LSU Tigers come 2023. It will be a chance for the quarterback to further prove his talent locally, but also showcase his skills to the entire nation on one of football’s biggest stages.
Shining on the gridiron is something that Collins has been doing the majority of his life. His grandfather was the first to introduce him to football, and despite not falling in love with it right away, Collins began to grow a passion and talent for the sport, becoming a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
“I just feel like I’m a person that can bring anything that’s needed to the table,” Collins said. “I can do whatever is asked of me. I’m just going to be a leader, a team guy.”
A tremendous athlete who also played basketball, baseball and competed in track growing up, Collins first displayed his versatility on the field when he was younger. Through his youth, the Baton Rouge native played wide receiver and running back in addition to some time at quarterback. He also relished playing on the defensive side of the ball where he spent time at linebacker, and his main position at safety.
While Collins was always talented growing up, he didn’t come to realize just how bright his future was in football until his high school years.
“It never really hit me until I got in high school that I could really be something in the sport,” Collins said. “For a long time, I was just playing because I was good and it was fun. Then once I got to high school, it just really hit me that, OK, I can take my game to the next level.”
Collins got plenty of high school-level experience early on, playing at the JV level while he was in eighth grade. As a freshman, the Woodlawn High School quarterback became a varsity contributor, and although the season didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, the learning experience was invaluable.
“It came with a lot of growing pains,” Collins said. “But I learned as I went. That kind of helped me to be where I am now, because I learned so early.”
As a sophomore, Collins showed his growth as he racked up nearly 1,500 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns across five Woodlawn contests. The 6-foot-2 quarterback was even better in 2021 as he threw for 1,930 yards and 16 touchdowns to just three interceptions, completing 65% of his passes. His play earned him plenty of recognition including all-metro and Class 5A all-state honors.
Congratulations to Junior QB Rickie Collins (@RickieJCollins1) for being named to the 2021 5-5A All-District First Team and the 2021 District 5-5A Offensive MVP
— Woodlawn Football (@WHSFootballTeam) December 6, 2021
“Both those teams were very talented with players that could go to the next level,” Collins said. “Just to be able to play alongside those guys has been a blessing. They helped me get the numbers that I had. I learned from them as well as they learned from me. Those were the two years I got to be able to stamp my name and make a name for myself.”
With the 2022 season beginning, Collins is looking to replicate his success of the past couple of years. And with it being his final year at Woodlawn, he’s prepared to leave it all on the line to help what should be a solid Panthers squad to success.
“This year is to put the icing on top and just go all out,” Collins said. “I think any team that is a contender, their ultimate goal is to go to the championship and win it. We have great potential this year and we should be able to prove ourselves.”
Collins will also have a chance to further prove himself individually. Currently, the senior is ranked No. 178 nationally and as the 13th-best quarterback in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports. However, he is solely focused on what he can control.
“I just keep my head down and keep working,” Collins said. “I’m not the type of guy to be worried about a ranking. I’m a football player. That’s my job and that’s their job to rank us … My goal is to be the best I can be all the time.”
Following the 2022 season, Collins will begin looking ahead to the next steps of his football journey. As he has continued to progress over the last several years, the senior’s end goal in the sport has become to play professionally someday.
“A lot of my friends, teammates, we’re all trying to get to that ultimate level of football,” Collins said. “I have to go earn my stripes, go ball and prove to the people who I am.”
However, to do so, Collins will first be looking to have a successful college career. Initially, it appeared that part of his football journey would come in West Lafayette, Indiana as Collins pledged to become a member of the Purdue Boilermakers earlier this year, passing up initial interest from schools like Memphis, Virginia Tech and Arkansas.
“Purdue came along probably a month or so later,” Collins said. “I just kind of fell in love with those people up there, but obviously it didn’t work out.”
Throughout the spring and summer, Collins continued to showcase his elite talent. One of his greatest displays came while competing at the Elite 11 camp.
A week away from the @Elite11 finals, great work this evening by @RickieJCollins1 sharpening up before he heads out to California to compete. Proud of this guy & all of the work he’s put in. He puts actions before words. @MarcusRandall19 #different pic.twitter.com/yRow1nGJ8r
— Wyatt Davis (@wyattdalton4) June 24, 2022
🏈 Elite11 🏈
— Rivals (@Rivals) July 9, 2022
“It was beneficial just because I went out there and I did what I was supposed to do and handled my business,” Collins said. “But it was also a blessing to compete alongside those guys.”
Before long, Collins began receiving more and more interest from additional schools, one of those being LSU. In early August, the quarterback decided to decommit from Purdue and evaluate his options. For about 10 days, a whirlwind of attention ensued as people speculated Collins could be considering LSU, sparking the viral hashtag “#RickieReconsidered” on social media.
“It was crazy,” Collins said. “The top schools were LSU and Florida State … It was a tough situation, but it was a good situation.”
Ultimately, the Tigers were too good to pass up for the four-star quarterback.
I reconsidered ‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/QhMxEZ7gaF
— Rickie J.Collins (@RickieJCollins1) August 11, 2022
“LSU was always in the lead for me because it was my hometown,” Collins said. “I think any kid would want to come down and play for the Tigers. Wearing purple and gold, you can’t go wrong.”
Once Collins arrives at LSU, he should be plenty prepared for the moment. One reason is thanks to his current high school coach, Marcus Randall, who is a former LSU Tigers quarterback himself.
“He kind of developed my game and took it to the next level,” Collins said about Randall. “He made it clear that he was going to be in my corner regardless of where I went, but obviously, he’s excited that I’m going to his alma mater and going to play at LSU. He’s been a blessing to have throughout my whole career because he’s given me the advice and knowledge to learn from and just grow from.”
With new head coach Brian Kelly now at the head of the LSU program, a new culture is being built despite the Tigers being just three years removed from a national championship. To get to be part of that as well as play alongside several other local commits such as four-star wideout Shelton Sampson Jr., four-star running back Kaleb Jackson and four-star safety Kylin Jackson, is something Collins is looking forward to.
Yes sirrrr‼️‼️ https://t.co/zwJKooBU68
— Rickie J.Collins (@RickieJCollins1) August 13, 2022
“It’s a new culture there,” Collins said. “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be a part of something big like that. To get back to what LSU football is known for is going to be a great thing to be a part of.”
As bright as LSU’s future appears to be, the Tigers’ fate could someday be on the shoulders of Collins. He hopes to make an immediate impact from day one at his new home in Baton Rouge, and will look to become LSU’s next great starting quarterback.
“I just want to go in, earn my stripes and eventually be the starter,” Collins said. “If I could be a first-year starter, that would be great. That’s my ultimate goal is to get on the field as a true freshman and do my thing for three or four years or so.”