High school star thought he’d never play football again. One simple act of kindness changed his life
College football is known as a tough place where young men often find themselves not getting what they expected. But one high schooler learned that, sometimes, good things can happen to good people.
Skyline High School football star Cedric Collins, Jr. was shaping up to be an elite prospect as a junior in 2012. As a defensive back with elite speed, Collins was recruited by teams all over the country.
He opted to accept a verbal scholarship offer from home state powerhouse Texas A&M in August 2012.
Cedric led the Skyline Raiders to the playoffs that year. The first round match-up came against Plano High School on November 16, 2012. On that day, Cedric Collins, Jr.’s life would change forever.
During a routine play, Collins was blocked by an opposing player and ended up on his back. As Collins exited the field, he assumed it was a normal leg injury despite the fact that he lost feeling in his legs.
Several tests and specialist visits later revealed an unfortunate finding: Collins suffered from Klippel-Feil Syndrome, a congenital fusion of vertebrae that’s rare but even more rare in an elite athlete.
The diagnosis came in: If he continued to play football, he risked a high likelihood of paralysis. Collins would never play football again.
The sky had fallen for Collins; with his speed and pedigree, he could have made waves at Texas A&M, maybe even gone pro some day. Instead, he faced the reality of a life without football.
Rather than turn a cold shoulder to Collins, Texas A&M invited Collins along with several other recruits to the College Station campus in January 2013. What football head coach Kevin Sumlin told the Collins family would change their lives.
“He told us as long as he was at A&M, the education would be taken care of,” Collins’ father told the Dallas Morning News. “I can’t express how thankful we are.”
Collins will attend Texas A&M on a full scholarship — “the same scholarship that the starting quarterback has,” the senior Collins points out — and work as a student coach and spend a lot of time around the program to prepare for a possible future career in coaching.
His athletic career may not be over, either; because it’s a non-contact sport, Collins plans on running track this Spring.
After losing so much, Texas A&M gave the Collins family a chance to grab a big piece of it back.
“He’s still going to A&M, and the education is the ultimate goal,” Collins, Sr. said. “Something really positive is going to come out of it.”