(Photo: Kelby Collins, twitter)
Billy Napier promised to beef up the trenches when he first took the Florida job, and that promise is now one step closer to fruition thanks to Kelby Collins.
Collins committed to Florida today on a YouTube live video over Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia, giving the Gators their fourth verbal pledge on the defensive line in this 2023 class. In doing so, Collins joins TJ Searcy, Isaiah Nixon, and Gavin Hill.
Collins, a consensus four-star defensive lineman recruit from Gardendale, AL, had an offer list that more closely resembled an offer list you’d expect of a five-star. Among the dozens of schools to offer him a scholarship: Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Miami, Texas, Texas A&M, and Mississippi.
You can watch his high school highlight tape here.
To me, the most appealing thing about Kelby Collins as an athlete is that he’s the complete package. While everybody has some natural growing and learning to do to make the adjustment from high school to the SEC, there’s not a real weakness in his game. He does some things better than others, because every athlete has his strengths. But according to various scouts, there isn’t anything glaring that he has to work on in order to see the field in the SEC.
He’s fast. He’s quick. His hands are strong enough to bully a lot of offensive linemen. And he’s got the brute strength in the rest of his ideal defensive lineman-style body (6’5, 275) to complement those strong hands. His highlight tape has more than a few such plays demonstrating each of those traits- you can see that he’s more than comfortable utilizing different aspects of his game to make a play.
Because of all that, Kelby Collins is a Swiss Army knife- though he probably projects best as an interior lineman at the next level, if you tell him that the team needs him to line up off the edge, he can be productive there too. He’s similarly effective against the run as he is against the pass, and his natural nose for the football translates well to any position along the defensive line.
In other words, Florida got another playmaker in a class filled with them.
With Collins onboard, Florida now has eighteen committed players in its 2023 class. Sixteen of those eighteen commits are consensus four-star prospects, meaning at least three of the four major recruiting services- Rivals, 247, ESPN, and On3- rank the prospects as four-star recruits. As a result, Florida’s class has shot up from outside the top 40 to inside the top 15 of the 247 Composite Rankings- and still isn’t done climbing.