The Maxwell Football Club has officially released their 2014 Bednarik Award watch list. The Bendarik Award (named after college football and NFL hall of famer Chuck Bednarik) is handed out each year to the nation's best defensive player. Three Alabama football players have been added to the list: Linebacker Trey DePriest, Defensive End A'Shawn Robinson, and most notably Safety Landon Collins. What sets Collins apart is his instinct and potential to shine.
Collins is no stranger to hype. The junior safety from Louisiana was a highly decorated recruit who spurned in state favorite LSU for the Crimson Tide (much to the dismay of his mother...her infamous reaction can be found on Youtube). Collins appeared in all 14 games as a true freshman, coming off the bench and contributing with 17 tackles. He also came up big on special teams with a blocked punt. During his 2013 campaign, Collins totaled 54 solo tackles and 2 interceptions (he returned one 89 yards for a touchdown against Tennessee). Collins is an aggressive tackler with a nose for the ball. During the 2013 season he forced two fumbles.
Alabama's secondary has been under much scrutiny this offseason. Many experts feel that it is the one true weakness that coach Saban needs to fix (others feel that the quarterback situation is worse). The defensive backfield will look towards Collins to be their leader. The 6'0" 215 lb. junior has a prime opportunity to solidify himself as one of the top prospects in the upcoming 2015 NFL draft. Collins possesses an NFL ready physique and adequate speed. According to nfldraftscout.com, Collins 40 low time clocks in at 4.42 seconds, while his high sits around 4.53 seconds. Collins displayed his leadership ability, filling in for injured safety Vinnie Sunseri. Looking back on the 2013 season, one can argue that during the second half of the season Collins was the best player on the Tide's defense (based off performance and potential).
Collins is a natural when assuming the role of the eighth man in the box. He is not afraid to approach the line of scrimmage. Playing close to the line has allowed Collins to solidify his role as a formidable tackler. Collins will now be able to assume a true free safety roll --if needed-- with HaHa Clinton-Dix now playing in the NFL. Opposing players beware...Collins does not go down without a fight. Too many defensive backs fall victim to cut blocks, or find themselves lost in traffic. Landon Collins has shown time after time that he can remain on his feet and fight off would be blockers.
The ceiling is far from set for Landon Collins. His skill set has set him apart from other defensive backs in the nation, and now he is ready to take control of the Crimson Tide's defense. His leadership ability, dexterity, finesse, and tenacity are all traits that cannot be taught. Simply put, Collins has a very fair shot at winning the Bednarik Award.