Collins benefitting from unique bond with Uiagalelei

Collins benefitting from unique bond with Uiagalelei

Football

Collins benefitting from unique bond with Uiagalelei

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The true freshman receiver got his first regular season field action during Clemson's home opener Saturday

Beaux Collins got his first opportunity to see the field in Clemson’s 49-3 victory over South Carolina State on Saturday. 

The true freshman wide receiver’s first time stepping on the grass happened to come in Clemson’s home opener, which was also the first time in a long time that Tigers fans had a chance to pack Memorial Stadium to the brim.

“It was a little nerve-wracking at first, being able to run down the hill, see all the fans,” Collins told reporters Monday. “As the game got going and I got going and I got my catch, I was a little calmer.”

Collins was able to settle in and catch three passes for 36 yards in his collegiate debut.

It’s also beneficial that Collins gets to catch passes from someone he’s familiar with — D.J. Uiagalelei.

“It helps a lot. On and off the field it helps,” Collins said. “Being able to have a friend, off the field, that I’ve known for a while now. And then on the field, just having a good that I’ve played with, know how he throws the ball, know his tendencies and things like that. It’s helped a lot in the process.”

Uiagalelei has given his former St. John Bosco counterpart some advice as far as classes go and how to properly manage his time, according to Collins. The first time Collins was ever around his quarterback, he recognized just how mature and beyond his years Uiagalelei was. 

Going back to his recruitment process, it was certainly beneficial that Uiagalelei was already committed to a high-level program across the country. During his junior season, Collins traveled to The Valley for a visit. 

“I would say it played a pretty big role in my recruitment,” Collins said when asked about the role Uiagalelei’s presence played in his recruitment. “Being comfortable with somebody already and they go to a school that’s recruiting you, you don’t get that option a lot of times. And it’s at a pretty high level — Clemson — you can get any better than that as far as going there as a receiver. I took that into consideration with my decision.”

He attended the Dabo Swinney camp over the summer of 2019 and performed well. Clemson’s staff had already known about Collins through Uiagalelei, but when he came out to Clemson, that’s when he received an offer from Swinney.

“Ever since then, it was a pretty good relationship between Coach [Jeff ] Scott, who used to be here,” he said. “When Coach [Tyler] Grisham got the job, we really hit it off. I just fell in love with the place. Came on a couple more visits. Came to a game. It was a pretty easy process for me.”

Collins had and still has no concerns about being far away from home. He wanted to get away from his native California, after being on the West Coast his entire life. Collins said that he wanted to get a different feel for how things were in Tiger Town.

“It’s a lot slower, a lot calmer,” Collins said when asked to compare Clemson to his hometown. “I like it more out there though than the city. There’s a lot of traffic, things like that. But out here, people are nicer. I love it.”

As a true freshman, Collins already feels like he fits in pretty well. Of course, he had the benefit of arriving at Clemson in January as an early enrollee. His senior season of football was delayed to the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but by that time he was already in Clemson.

It helps that he joined a room full of talented playmakers, where there’s a good relationship from the No. 1 wideout to the PWOs.

“I’ve had some time to pick up on plays,” he added. “It’s not that bad of a transition, being around a whole lot of playmakers. As far as in a group, guys like E.J. Williams, (Justyn) Ross, Joe Ngata, I learn from those dudes every day. We run routes and then after the route, we come back each play, we talk about what we could’ve done and what we saw.”

After Ngata was truly Clemson’s only wideout to put together a positive performance in Clemson’s 10-3 season-opening loss against Georgia — he racked up six receptions with 110 receiving yards– Swinney said that he wished he could have gotten Collins into the game.

Obviously, he never got into the game, but what can Collins take away from that experience?

“At first I would say, I was ready to get in there,” he said. “Coaches were telling me to be ready. We had a great week of preparation. I was doing well in practice. I was just ready for the most part. Being able to watch a game like that from the sidelines was a great experience for me, just being at my first college game, first packed house. It was just a great opportunity.”

Collins did plenty of heavy lifting during fall camp, which has put him in good standing with Clemson’s coaching staff and aided his ascension up the depth chart this fall.

“I feel like it was just being ready when my number was called,” Collins added. “In practice, they would tell me to go in if someone was gassed and just knowing my assignment and little things like that was the key for them to be able to trust me.”

Swinney has often harped on cross-training his wideouts, which has led to Collins seeing a significant share of his snaps coming out of the slot.

“I’m really liking the slot position,” he said. “In high school, I played more like the outside, boundary-type deal. But being able to come here and work the slot and just develop my game for the next level at a high level. It’s just really fun being able to learn different positions within an offense and it helps you learn where you’re supposed to be at all times, knowing the whole concept of the play.”

Going forward does Collins have any personal goals?

Nothing extravagant, but he would like to score at least one touchdown, he said. It sure could happen this Saturday as Clemson opens conference play against Georgia Tech.

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