Collins’ response? “That’s what I came here for.”
“We’ll see how that turns out,” coach Gary Patterson said earlier this week.
Yes, we will. Collins will make his TCU starting debut at Kansas at 2 p.m. Saturday. Shawn Robinson is out for the season with a season-ending shoulder injury, leaving fifth-year senior Grayson Muehlstein as the backup.
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Prized freshman recruit Justin Rogers could be another option at some point this season, Patterson said.
Rogers sustained a severe knee injury in August 2017 and has been rehabbing since coming to campus in January. Patterson said the knee is fully healthy, but Rogers is still dealing with a drop-foot condition.
“I don’t think he’s 100 percent,” Patterson said. “The knee is 100 percent, but the foot isn’t. He had a drop-foot type situation that was pretty serious. It’s been frustrating for him. He’s such a competitor and leader. It’s been hard for him to watch.”
Rogers runs the offense in practice every Sunday, though, with the rest of the freshmen. The goal is to help the younger players get acclimated more quickly should they be called upon.
“We’ve been doing it every Sunday for 10 minutes,” Patterson said. “They’ve been out, they’ve been running our offense, so we could try to bring them along faster and get them where they need to be.”
If TCU gets Rogers game action this season, it will be in four or fewer games to make him eligible for a “redshirt” under the NCAA’s new rule.
For now, though, all eyes are on Collins. The 6-foot-5, 214-pounder, who transferred to TCU after playing the 2016 season for the University of Pennsylvania, has a strong arm and is more mobile than most might think.
Collins had success right away when he entered in the first half against Oklahoma, leading three straight scoring drives going into halftime. He connected with KaVontae Turpin for a 41-yard TD pass on his third pass of the game, and then hit Jalen Reagor on a 33-yard fade for a TD on the first play the following series.
But Collins faltered down the stretch, dealing with a blister issue. The blister issue has gotten better, Patterson said, and the Frogs are ready to go with Collins.
Collins is ready and excited, too. Playing in the Big 12 is just a little bit different than the Ivy League.
“It’s a little different,” Collins said, grinning. “A little bit.”
The offense won’t change even though Collins might not have the same “escapability” that Robinson did. Collins had a team-high 36 rushing yards against OU on Saturday, including a run in which he picked up a first down in the third quarter with a memorable stiff arm on defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles.
The last time Collins stiff armed a defender like that?
“Never,” Collins said, smiling after the game. “Being honest.”
Said Patterson: “As you saw, [Collins] runs well. I don’t know if he has as good of escapability as what Shawn does, but Mike is very deceiving as far as his ability to take off and run. He’s very strong. He’s a little bit taller, so he sees some things maybe a little better. He’s a student of the game.”
For the season, Collins is 13-for-31 passing for 247 yards with one interception and three touchdowns. He also has 65 rushing yards with one TD on 10 carries.