Florida football: DL Kelby Collins credits hoops for his pass rush skills

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Incoming Florida DL Kelby Collins (17) with QB Jaden Rashada following last week's Under Armour All-American game

ORLANDO — Incoming Florida freshman defensive lineman Kelby Collins showed his impressive footwork during last week’s Under Armour All-American game at Camping World Stadium, using a spin move to record a sack and his wingspan to break up a pass to earn team defensive MVP honors.

That footwork and athleticism can be attributed to not just his time on the football field.

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound Collins was a standout basketball player in Gardendale, Ala., a power forward and center who came close to breaking some rims in his high school career.

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 “I used to play basketball so I guess my footwork, is what helps,” Collins said. “Strength comes in a lot but my footwork is really what keeps the offensive line moving.”

Collins, who enrolled at Florida this week, is four-star top 60 nationally-ranked recruit who posted 47.5 tackles for a loss in 31 games in his football career at Gardendale.

“You just turn the tape on, one of the more polished, ready to play players in the country,” Florida coach Billy Napier said. “Just fundamentally advanced … and really a violent player, plays with effort.”

As a result, Collins could get an opportunity this fall to contribute to a Florida front seven that was inconsistent in dealing with the week-in, week-out physicality required to thrive in the SEC. By enrolling early, Collins will take part in spring football.

“I enrolled early just to really get a head start on the campus life and find my way around classes and just come in here and get to work early,” Collins said. “You know I’m excited to get to work.”

Collins said he’s looking to bring versatility to Florida’s defensive front.

“I hope to be able to play everywhere and be a player that the other teams look out for and make the plays for my defense,” Collins said.

Collins said he’s already created a bond with his position coach, Florida defensive line coach Sean Spencer. He spurned offers from in-state programs Auburn and Alabama to sign with the Gators.

“Everybody wanted me to go to ‘Bama or Auburn, but Florida, it was just the right place for me,” Collins said. “Coach Napier, he’s going to turn the program around. This class coming in is really going to help him.”