By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Braxton Collins is leaving Shinbone Ridge for the Capitol City.
On Mar. 20, the Gaston High School senior signed a letter of intent to play football at Faulkner University in Montgomery.
A four-year starter at running back and linebacker, Collins this season rushed for a team-high 1,010 yards and 13 touchdowns while racking up 111 tackles. He helped the Bulldogs improve from an 0-10 record in 2012 to 7-4 and a berth in the Class 1A state playoffs.
Collins was named to the All-Messenger, All-Etowah County and the Class 2A, All-Region 7 first teams.
“It’s a good opportunity that I’ve been working towards for about five years,” said Collins, who plans to major in business. “I couldn’t have done it without the support from my teammates and coaches and family. I’m just ready to play.”
Collins said that the return of Swane Morris as head coach was an important part of Gaston’s turnaround in 2013. Morris coached the Bulldogs from 2001 to 2009 before spending the next three seasons at Scottsboro High. Morris went 70-37 in his initial eight seasons at GHS.
“I was really happy that [Morris] came back,” said Collins. “I didn’t expect that we’d go 7-3, but Coach had faith in us and we worked hard and got it done.”
Morris said that he stability that Collins brought to the teams stands out the most for him.
“Braxton’s the old soul that drives things straight down the line. He’s going to show up and do his job and not veer off course, and it’s a joy to coach kids like that. Braxton’s just 17, so he’ll continue to grow when he gets to college.”
Faulkner went 9-3 last season and qualified for the NAIA playoffs. Collins joins 2013 Gadsden City High graduates LaGerald Malone and Jordan Veasy on the Eagle roster.
“To have been able to see Braxton’s start as an eighth grader and see him finish today and move on to the next level is really special,” said Morris. “It’s been an honor to coach Braxton, and I’m so glad that he’ll be playing on Saturdays.”