Film Room: Breaking Down Notre Dame 2023 Target Rickie Collins

Breaking down high upside 2023 quarterback Rickie Collins, a top target for Notre Dame
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Notre Dame quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is already putting in major work on quarterbacks in the 2023 class, which is absolutely loaded. There are several highly ranked quarterbacks on the board, but one quarterback not ranked high is New Orleans (La.) Woodlawn standout Rickie Collins.

In the above video we look at the film of Collins and talk about what makes him such an intriguing prospect.

Right now he thrives based on his God-given tools, but there is a lot of room for needed development. While other quarterbacks are more seasoned, more developed and more ready to play right now, I have seen very, very few quarterbacks that I believe have higher ceilings than Collins.

He's not even close to his full potential, and a program that believes in its ability to develop quarterbacks could turn this young quarterback into a star. 

One of the reasons Collins is raw compared to other players at the position is something that makes me even higher on him. Collins is a three-sport standout, something we rarely see now a days, and that's a great thing. He was a first-team All-District player in football and basketball, and he was a second-team All-District player in baseball.

RICKIE COLLINS PROFILE

Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
High School: Woodlawn

Height: 6-3
Weight: 175

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber prospect)
Upside Grade: 5.0

Offers: Purdue, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Memphis

STRENGTHS

Arm Strength - Collins saw his arm power take a major jump as a sophomore, and right now it is clearly his best asset. The ball explodes out of his hand, and he can make very difficult throws look easy. Collins can get the ball over the top of any defense, he can hit the tough seam and deep corner throws, he throws with a lot of velocity on deeper outside routes (comebacks, deep outs, etc) and the exciting thing is he's still just a sophomore and he's quite skinny, which means he's going to get even stronger over the next two years.

Ball Placement - There are technical issues that can cause Collins to be a bit erratic at times (see below), but what is clear from watching him play is that mentally he has a good feel for where the ball is supposed to go beyond just who is getting the throw. He shows a good feel for things like knowing when to go low, when to put it on a target's hip, when to go back shoulder and when to go high. Collins also shows a natural feel for when to change trajectory and speeds, which means he knows when to heat it up, when to drop it over the top and the feel for attacking the intermediate zones.

Athletic - Collins isn't a burner from a speed standpoint, but the rest of his athletic skills grade out extremely high. He has excellent foot quickness, his balance is impressive, he changes direction with ease (and suddenness) and he is quite elusive in space. As he fills out I expect him to be a quarterback that coaches can use on designed runs and in the read-zone game, but where he's going to be most dangerous in time is using his athleticism to make defenders miss in the backfield before he takes off and runs.

Playmaker - Collins will only get better and better when it comes to being an elite playmaker. His powerful arm, confidence and willingness to take chances allows him to make a lot of plays that most quarterbacks simply don't have the talent and/or courage to make. Collins can make plays from the pocket, when he's on the move and as a runner. What I love is that even though he can be a dynamic runner, when Collins gets moving in the pocket he keeps his eyes up and downfield, and he's always looking for a receiver to hit downfield.

Competitive - Collins is also a very competitive player that battles the entire game. Some of his most impressive work came in a couple of games where his team was down big, but he battled back and almost brought his team all the way back. You also don't thrive in three sports if you aren't a driven and competitive young man.

Understands The Game - Being a three-sport standout means Collins isn't working with a quarterbacks coach year-round, which puts him a bit behind when it comes to the mechanics (see below) and nuances of the game. Despite that, Collins shows instincts and a good feel for the game, and once he becomes focused solely on playing quarterback (which I'm hoping doesn't happen until he gets to college) you'll see his comfort level and decision making improve.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Collins has a lot about his game that needs to continue being enhanced, and all of it are coachable things or things that will come as he continues to physically and mentally mature. It's why I view him as having such a high ceiling. His physical tools are elite, and as the technical part of his game develops he'll keep getting better and better and better. 

Body Needs Work - Collins is quite skinny, so coaches will have to decide how much he's going to fill out. From what I see in video and through photos he appears to have enough of a frame to allow him to get to at least 200 pound in time. The fact he's so skinny and lacks strength is an area that must be improved, but when you consider he already has a great arm it can be exciting to see what his arm strength is going to look like when he fills out and adds more weight room strength. Filling out will also allow him to project better when it comes to taking a pounding and holding up in college.

Release - Collins has a very long throwing motion in which he dips the ball very low, which creates more room for him to have to get the ball back up and through the throwing zone. It's almost identical to the motion we see from Trevor Lawrence, so obviously it can work, but right now it creates a couple issues for Collins. Number one, that kind of long release can create inconsistency with his release point, which is true for Collins. The fact he plays baseball only enhances that, as throwing a baseball is a different motion than throwing a baseball. He's going to have to work hard to make sure he is working hard at creating a more consistent release point, which will help him throw with more consistent zip and make him a more accurate quarterback.

Number two, Collins has an inconsistent arm speed with that long release. When he's right he is really fast getting through the throwing zone, which is partly what makes Lawrence so great with that motion. If you have a long motion to have to be fast with your arm speed, which also requires good use of the core. Too many times Collins either tries to power up too much or he tries to aim the ball, and both issues effect his release point.

As he learns to be faster and more consistent with his arm speed and release you'll see Collins become an even more accurate and effective passer. It should also make him a more accurate deep ball thrower, which is an issue for Collins at times right now.

Footwork - Collins is all over the place with his feet and he's also not in much of a rhythm with his feet. This can cause him to be more of an arm thrower than I would like, it causes him at times to not be ready to quickly get rid of the ball and other times he'll too narrow or wide with his base, and both instances can create some inconsistency with his release point. When your base is narrow it tends to drive the nose of the ball down, when your base is too wide and can drive the ball up. With more experience and coaching Collins should be able to clean up his footwork, which will improve his arm mechanics and make him even more effective.

Decision Making - Collins still isn't an overly experienced player even though he played as a freshman. He's just a sophomore and his second high school season was shortened because of Covid-19. That inexperience shows up on film as he works through progressions. He's inconsistent in this regards, he tends to lock onto receivers at times (which is expected for most players his age) and he'll rush throws into coverage too often. All of this can be cleaned up, and there are plenty of snaps where the sophomore shows a good feel for the game and a high football IQ. It's about consistency, which comes with experience.

RECRUITMENT

Collins doesn't have many offers right now, with Purdue, Arkansas and Virginia Tech being the only schools to offer him a scholarship. I expect that to change over the summer as more and more coaches see him throwing at camps. Collins has outstanding skills and he's a very good student (reported 3.6 GPA), and Notre Dame has already developed a strong connection with Collins, who speaks highly of Irish OC Tommy Rees. Collins is expected to come to a Notre Dame camp this summer (June 17), where he will workout for the coaches. I wouldn't be surprised if he impresses and earns a Notre Dame offer. 

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