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January 5, 2012
Collins picks Alabama
Five days from now No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama will play for the right to claim college football's grandest prize - a BCS national championship.
On Thursday the two Southeastern Conference Western Division rivals found themselves in another clash of sorts with the winner gaining the services of Dutchtown safety Landon Collins.
Collins, the nation's second-ranked safety and Rivals100 member, ended a fierce recruiting battle when the 6-foot, 210-pounder committed to Alabama during the fourth quarter of Thursday's Fifth Annual Under Armour All-American game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Collins, who was on the losing end of the 49-16 game, had an interception and tackle on the goal line that prevented a touchdown early in the third quarter.
"This is the biggest decision for me and I feel at home more," Collins said after his decision to pick Alabama. "I loved the coaches and the coaching staff and the players I'm going to be playing with."
The announcement was greeted by more of a stunned silence than a rousing applause by those seated next to Collins with his mother, April Justin, obviously objecting to her son's choice of schools.
"I feel LSU's a better place for him to be," Justin said. "LSU Tigers. Number one. Go Tigers."
Collins made only two official visits, the first to Alabama for the first matchup between the two SEC rivals with LSU emerging with a 9-6 overtime victory.
Collins expended his official visit to LSU on Dec. 16 before the Christmas holidays where he spent time with boyhood friends and LSU commitments Dwayne Thomas of O.P. Walker and Deion Jones of Jesuit.
Collins capped a sterling prep career at Dutchtown, earning the rare distinction of landing on the first team Class 5A All-State team at both running back and defensive back. He was most recently selected the state's recipient of the prestigious Mr. Football award to go along with an earlier plaudit that honored him as the winner of the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Collins averaged a whopping 13.7 yards a carry on offense, rushing 89 times for 1,218 yards and 21 touchdowns in his first varsity season of playing the position.
Defensively, with most teams either running or throwing opposite of him, Collins had 45 tackles with four stops for losses and four interceptions with two of those being returned for TDs.
"It was very difficult," Collins said. "Both teams are top notch to me and I feel at home at both schools. I'm going to go with Roll Tide roll."