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Elijah Collins staying grounded after breakout performance

September 12, 2019
<p>Redshirt freshman Elijah Collins (24) runs the ball down the field in their game against the Broncos at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.</p>

Redshirt freshman Elijah Collins (24) runs the ball down the field in their game against the Broncos at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Michigan State freshman running back Elijah Collins lives his life by the words of his favorite rapper, Future.

A line from the song "Used To This" featuring Drake stuck out to him.

Beat the odds, do numbers and remain humble.

“That's kind of what I live by, no matter how things get, whether they're high or low," Collins said. "Just going to keep doing what I am doing, try to beat the odds and remain humble at all costs.” 

Collins is at a pretty high moment in his football career. After his showcase night in MSU's 51-17 route against Western Michigan, Collins appears to be the new workhorse in the Spartan backfield.

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Collins rushed for 192 yards on 17 carries against the Broncos, good for 11.3 yards per attempt. He promptly was listed as MSU's new starter at running back ahead of its matchup Saturday afternoon against Arizona State. (4:00 p.m., FOX).

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"He'll start this football game and he'll have the opportunity to get the majority of carries early and we'll see how it all shakes out," Mark Dantonio said during his weekly press conference. "I was impressed with him. I thought he had a burst. I thought he ran through tackles and he had good vision in the hole and good cutting ability. So, I mean, he did the job. ... I was impressed."

Despite seeing action in three games, Collins — a three-star running back from Detroit — carried the ball just twice for eight yards during his redshirt season, with both attempts occurring in MSU's 14-10 season-finale win against Rutgers.

He saw his workload increase against Tulsa, when he ran for 17 yards on eight carries. There weren't many people that expected Collins' explosion against WMU. But, he knew it was coming.

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“I was doing that at a young age, but when I was doing it here, it was a little surreal, yeah, because it is at a different level. But at the same time it's what I’ve been doing," Collins said. "I've been a running back since I was eight years old, so I am just used to it.”

Through Collins' big week of success, MSU's offensive coordinator Brad Salem hasn't seen many modifications with his personality off the field or preparation between the sidelines. Collins is still the same kid that worked his way to get his first shot at being MSU's starting running back.

“He’s a very humbled kid, so I don’t think it has changed him," Salem said. "He’s probably more excited about playing and the opportunity to play.” 

He is just trying to beat the odds, do numbers and stay humble.

“It didn’t really shock me as much as I thought it would," Collins said. "But it was something that I always thought about and looked forward to. I have prepared for all things like this. I work as hard as I can for things like this. So, when the day came it felt a little surreal but at the same time, I took it and cherished it because it means a lot.” 

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