PRINCETON — Princeton head coach Keith Taylor coached extensive receiver Dominick Collins all through center faculty and highschool.
After the Class AAA state championship sport on Dec. 2, his ultimate one as Collins’ head coach, he gave a definitive evaluation of his standout participant.
“I feel he’s top-of-the-line athletes within the state of West Virginia,” Taylor mentioned. “I’m biased. I’m clearly gonna say he’s one of the best however I feel he proved it immediately.”
Biased or unbiased, the bulk agree with Taylor.
After a season by which Collins caught 83 passes for 1,901 yards and 27 touchdowns, he was named the Randy Moss Award winner in addition to the Kennedy Award winner by the West Virginia Sports activities Writers Affiliation.
The Randy Moss Award, named after the NFL Corridor of Famer and former Kennedy Award winner, has been offered yearly to the state’s high receiver since 2014 whereas the Kennedy Award is offered on the identical foundation to the state’s high general participant. In sweeping each awards Collins turns into the primary participant in state historical past to take action and the primary receiver since Brandon Barrett (Martinsburg, 2003) to assert the Kennedy. He joins Barrett (2002-03) and Moss (1994) as the one extensive receivers to win the Kennedy.
Collins rewrote the file guide at Princeton this previous season. His 36 whole touchdowns are a brand new program file as are all of his single-season receiving numbers. His 27 landing receptions tied the single-season statewide file as nicely.
Established as an all-state receiver a 12 months in the past, there was a query as as to if or not Collins would be capable of match his output from a 12 months in the past when he completed with 1,036 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns as a junior. With four-year starter and eight,000-yard passer Grant Cochran misplaced to commencement, there wasn’t a solidified starter on the quarterback place for Princeton till late August, which means touches may should be manufactured for Collins in an array of the way together with as a conventional runner.
However whereas the QB competitors performed out Collins labored on his particular person sport, even getting each potential starters concerned.
“There was quite a lot of work,” Collins mentioned. “I used to be figuring out three, perhaps 4 instances a day. I used to be attempting to get my new quarterback on the sector and get that new chemistry with him — each of them on the time. Simply all of the work within the offseason – we got here out with all of the chemistry and we have been all simply working. I knew it will be arduous as a result of each are actually good quarterbacks. (Brad Mossor) likes to run and he may throw a bit of bit whereas (Probability Barker) likes to throw and may run a bit of bit. It was going to harm a bit of bit, however having the QB who may run (Brad Mossor) out at receiver, I knew that may assist us.”
Taylor, who had been on workers at the highschool after teaching on the center faculty, took over this season for Chris Pedigo. A part of his job was making all of the items match however he knew instantly Collins was a foundational one to maintain constructing upon. It gave him confidence as a head coach as nicely, realizing any time his workforce took the sector they usually had one of the best participant.
“For the final couple of years, even his sophomore 12 months he got here on on the finish and our technique was to get the ball to No. 5,” Taylor mentioned. “That’s been our go-to and what we’ve based mostly our philosophy round since he’s been there. He simply made the quarterback comfy, irrespective of if it was Probability or Brad. We knew we may get fast screens out to Dom. I’m simply tremendous pleased with him. I’ve at all times wished to teach a child like that — each coach does the place you go ‘Let’s simply throw a fast display and rating an 80-yard landing.’ That’s what each coach goals of and I’ve at all times mentioned we by no means had that child at Princeton till we acquired Dom Collins. It’s simple to know if you exit and go searching and know groups can’t guard him and that’s the place quite a lot of my confidence got here from. I knew we had a participant like that who may take it the space with two or three guys on him.”
A lot was placed on Collins’ plate from the bounce. As a sophomore, he was tasked with filling the void left by the 2020 Moss Award winner Ethan Parsons.
He led the workforce in catches (28), receiving yards (460) and landing receptions (eight), earlier than ending with practically 3,000 yards over his ultimate two seasons. However that sophomore season established him as an explosive menace. By the point his senior season rolled round most opponents have been conscious of the 4.25 40-yard sprint he ran at WVU in the summertime of 2022. Because of this, he noticed most of the identical double coverages Parsons noticed all through his Moss marketing campaign, however the Tigers have been ready. They used Collins as a decoy at instances and put him in movement to interrupt brackets. He additionally discovered how you can beat the coverages on his personal whereas realizing it wasn’t all unhealthy.
“Getting double-teamed each week was loopy,” Collins smiled. “I simply needed to work on my cuts, my releases and get previous that double workforce. It sucks not getting the ball typically due to these double groups however on the identical time if you’re profitable, you’re nonetheless having enjoyable. Once you’re double-teaming me you’re taking individuals out of the field and we now have a number of individuals that may go off like I can and it was confirmed a number of instances this season.”
Collins’ crowning efficiency got here towards Bridgeport within the Class AAA semifinals. He caught 9 passes for 330 yards, ending with 5 whole touchdowns that despatched the Tigers to their first state title sport in program historical past. He completed the postseason with 31 receptions for 699 yards with seven landing catches. For good measure, he added a pair of dashing scores and a 100-yard kickoff return landing.
He joins Jim Miller, who received the Evans Award because the state’s high basketball participant in 1981, as the one athlete in Princeton historical past to garner Participant of the 12 months honors.
“It means loads,” Collins mentioned. “It goes to indicate how a lot arduous work pays off. I couldn’t be extra grateful than what I’m proper now. God’s blessed me with this potential and I used it to one of the best of my potential. I at all times knew I’d be fairly respectable at soccer simply due to my velocity however by no means in one million years would I consider this. I simply need to thank the person upstairs for this.”
Collins will probably be acknowledged on the 77th annual Victory Awards Dinner on Might 5, 2024 at River Metropolis in Wheeling.
Ending behind Collins within the voting have been, so as, Murphy Clement (Martinsburg), Matt Frye (Scott), Maxwell Molessa (Williamstown) and Gage Wright (Parkersburg South).
By Tyler Jackson/Lootpress.com