‘Football isn’t going to last forever’: Family, pursuit of degree kept Alfred Collins at Texas for 5th year

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fifth-year defensive lineman Alfred Collins wants to finish what he started, specifically because his mom told him to.

After being a rotation player for the Longhorns last year behind NFL-bound tackles T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy, not only is this year his time to shine, but it’s also about keeping a promise to his family.

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Collins’ mother, Benita Pollard-Collins, was a 4-year letter winner for the Longhorns in women’s basketball from 1990-94. Alfred said his entire family encouraged him to finish his degree in human dimensions of organizations (a liberal arts-based major).

“Football isn’t going to last forever, but the degree especially from here is going to take me a long way,” he said Thursday after the 14th spring practice. “My mom graduated from here and always tells me to finish what you start. It’s Texas man, the best school in the nation.”

Collins started six games and appeared in all 14 last season, notching 22 tackles and he was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection. He’s played in 48 career games and the Bastrop native has emerged as one of the defense’s leaders.

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He said the team’s new defensive line coach Kenny Baker is a stickler for details and won’t let him or any of the other linemen get away with anything in drills or film study. He loves that.

“If you make one wrong step, he’s like, go again,” Collins said of Baker. Baker previously coached in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins and replaced Bo Davis when he went to Louisiana State in the offseason. “I love him. He really wants the best for everybody in the room.”

Collins is just one of a talented group of defensive tackles and edge players returning for the Longhorns. Barryn Sorrell is one of them in his fourth season, and he said the position group has a great blend of veterans and young talent that “brings competition in practice.”

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“That’s what ultimately leads to success on gameday,” Sorrell said. “We set a new standard last year together and that’s what I’m going to hold everybody to.”

Sorrell started all 14 games last season and made 37 tackles on his way to an honorable mention All-Big 12 distinction and an All-Academic team selection. As another veteran leader on defense, he said his leadership style is based on being an example for everyone to follow.

“It all starts with leading by example,” he said. “I’m confident in the way I do things, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people in this program are confident in that as well. And being vocal as well, being able to push the guys when we need it.”

The Orange-White spring game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, but the latest weather forecast is calling for widespread rain roughly around that time, so hopefully for the sake of the fans who want to see some football plus the experience for the players, it holds off. Sorrell loves the spring game.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “It’s different when Longhorn Nation gets to come out. It’s unreal, being able to have those moments with them, especially for the younger guys coming in who haven’t had that game-like environment so they get a little preview.”

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