LSU's Collins announces his return for senior season
LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins announced on Tuesday that he will put off the NFL for another year and will return to school for his senior season.
Collins was one of six LSU juniors who announced that they will be returning to school for their final year in 2014. Joining Collins were center Elliott Porter, running backs Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee, and defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Jordan Allen.
Collins, a second team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2013, started 12 games for the Tigers this past season, helping LSU to a 10-3 overall mark and a final national ranking of No. 14. LSU set offensive school records for rushing touchdowns (37) and total yards per game (453.3) in 2013.
"When we recruit these guys, we tell them that the goals are your degree, that you play for a championship and that you put yourself in the best position to be drafted to go to the NFL," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It is very much a personal decision. Everyone makes this decision in a way that promotes their view of those three things: education, play for a championship and enter the NFL.
"To me, these guys really have exhibited quality decision-making and really the future path for young men in this program. This decision in my mind gives them a long-term view of who they are. They are all in a position of promoting education, and they want to enter the NFL at the highest possible position."
Collins, who will be in his third season as a starter next year, will anchor an offensive line that returns four starters from LSU's 10-3 team in 2013. Collins also said that one factor in his decision was that he's on pace to graduate next year.
"For me, it's always been a dream to play in the NFL and I feel like I'm prepared to play in the NFL," Collins said. "I also know in my heart that my time here at LSU isn't complete. I came here to compete and build great relationships with the guys here that I call my teammates and my brothers and also earn a degree. This 2014 LSU team has a lot to look forward to and a lot to accomplish, and I look forward to being a part of that.
"I definitely look forward to being around these guys, great coaches and great teammates. The bigger question is, why wouldn't I come back? You're going to be around an atmosphere of guys that you enjoy going out to games and practice with day to day. I'm coming back to finish and get my degree and to have a shot at a national championship next year."
Joining Collins and Porter as returning starters on the offensive line include guard Vadal Alexander and tackle Jerald Hawkins.
Rasco and Allen are expected to be two of the leaders on the defensive line next year. Rasco goes into his senior season with 83 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks, while Allen has accumulated 16 tackles and 2.0 sacks during his time with the Tigers.
Offensively, Hilliard and Magee return as the only tailbacks on the LSU roster with game experience. Hilliard 1,110 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in his career with the Tigers, while Magee has 759 yards and eight touchdowns for his credit. Magee ranked second on the team a year ago in rushing yards (626) and rushing TDs (8).