He’s been the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week. He was named to the 2009 First Team All-ACC. He’s 6’2, 290, and runs a 4.85 40. Yes, he’s always got that grin on his face (after all, he’s "too blessed to be stressed"). And look out, he’s about to be the next former Virginia Cavalier to make a splash in the NFL. Virginia Defensive End Nate Collins is one of a number of hopefuls coming at Virginia who would like to hear their name get called later this week, and StreakingtheLawn had a chance recently to catch up with the rising star.
While the "experts" are projecting Collins to be a late-round pick, those who have had Collins on their radar have nothing but praise to give. The National Football Post lists him on the All-Combine Snub Team, calling him "an intriguing interior pass rusher who can create havoc and get up the field on third downs." The Draft Insider describes him as a "strong, powerful tackle who clogs the middle and gets a lot of push up the field." USA Today says that he "was disruptive all season."
In the Twitter world, Collins is one of the most loved UVa athletes, as one of only a few athletes who take the time to interact with his fans and show appreciation to his followers. As a warning, if you follow him @BIGN98, be prepared to lose the rest of your timeline – it’s unclear to us how Nate has time to prepare for the Draft in between tweets.
StreakingtheLawn.com: When and how did you first get into football?
Nate Collins: I got into football I feel like how any other kid does. I ended up playing Pop Warner in my home town Port Chester! I played on the Colts the only time they won the Super Bowl in my town!
STL: How did you choose Virginia?
NC: Well, Virginia and Coach Groh were the only ones to take a chance and offer me after my junior year in high school.
STL: I guess that made it an easy decision then. In scouting reports, the one phrase that keeps getting repeated is that you have the ability to clog the middle. Is that what you consider to be your greatest asset? What else do you bring to the table?
NC: Well I take pride in everything I do on the football field. I believe I can play the run and clog the middle well, but if I had to pick I would say my pass rushing is my best asset.
STL: How do you react to mock drafts that are placing you as a 6th or 7th round pick?
NC: Man, I'm excited to have my name mentioned to be picked up in the Draft at any point that may be! And I just try not and focus on things I can't control. (Eds. Note: Too blessed to be stressed!)
STL: What areas of your game do you feel you still need to work on?
NC: There is always room for improvement when it comes to my game, but I can always get better with my hand placement and speed. Also, consistently staying low on my take off.
STL: Virginia finished with just three wins your senior season. How disappointing was this for you? How do you think it affects your draft prospects?
NC: Well like I was saying earlier I can only focus on things I can control. What's done is done with the season, but obviously I would have wanted it to go differently. No worries, the team will bounce back this year!
STL: In preparing for the draft, can you describe for us a typical training day?
NC: A training day consists of me waking up, having breakfast with Darren Childs and Billy Cuffee, and then we head over to the McCue center to work out. We do a weight room workout and then finish up with some running and position work out on the practice fields.
STL: What teams have you worked out with so far? What have been their reactions and what sort of feedback are you getting?
NC: Well I've only worked out for the New York Giants and that went well. I even got the chance to run LB drills, so that was exciting! I believe that they were impressed. I also took trips out to Chicago and also Jacksonville. Those trips were great as well. [Eds. Note: The Giants were Collins’ favorite team growing up, and continue to be, though he has stated that he would love to play for any team willing to put his name on their jersey.]
STL: Who has been your most influential coach in your career so far?
NC: Dan Gouin. This is my high school coach and he always took care of me, since the day he met me my 8th grade year.
STL: What are your future goals, aside from playing in the NFL?
NC: Well first off, before I do anything outside of the NFL, I am going to return to Charlottesville to get my degree!
STL: We know you love tweeting because you fill up half of our Twitter timeline! What are your other hobbies?
NC: I enjoy the company of my friends all the time and I hang out with my pet turtle Snaps and hermit crab Itchy (Laughs).
STL: What are you going to miss most about UVa?
NC: My friends.
We thank you, Nate, for sitting down with us and we hope you know that all of Wahoo Nation is 100% behind you! Best of luck this weekend and do the Cavaliers -- and yourself -- proud!