Some college football recruits agonize about their commitment decision. That's not the case for Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown). While he just committed to Alabama over LSU during Thursday's Under Armour All-America Game, it was an announcement that was a long time coming.
"I actually made the decision two years ago," said Collins (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), the top-rated recruit from Louisiana and the No. 7 player overall in the ESPNU 150. "But I also knew that I had to make sure."
Collins is the nation's top safety prospect and a five-star recruit who lives just down the road from Tiger Stadium. In the end, he just felt more at home with the Crimson Tide.
"That's been the thing for me, and what I have always said. I felt so much at home at Alabama," he said. "I have so much trust in those coaches and I get along so well with the players. That is why I ultimately picked Alabama."
Maybe Collins has known for a while where he would go, but that didn't change the fact that it was a difficult process, especially considering how close he is with the LSU staff and players in Baton Rouge.
"It's been tough and a lot of people have been on my back," Collins said. "People are always telling me about the schools and why I should go here and why I should go there. I just took into consideration what my family said and we debated off of that. I did not listen to the outside people.
"Still, I got close with the LSU coaches and telling them is going to be real tough."
It was apparently just as tough for Collins' family, as seconds after he committed to Alabama on the live telecast, his mother dropped her head. When asked what she thought about the decision, she didn't hide her true feelings.
"I feel as if LSU is the better place for him," she said. "LSU Tigers are No. 1."
Both the Tide and Tigers run a rugged defense, notorious for big plays and turning college players into NFL draft picks. Yet Collins favors Nick Saban's track record with the development of players.
"Both teams run great defenses," Collins said. "I fit both schemes and their defenses are just the same. They roll their safeties down inside the box. Both teams play man with one (LSU) playing a little more man.
"But playing for Coach Saban was very big for me. He's one of the best coaches. You can see that. He has first-round draft picks in the league. There is no doubt what kind of coach he is."
There will be big expectations for Collins, from both the coaches and himself. He would expect nothing less.
"I want to go in their next year and learn everything I can," Collins said. "I will work hard, stay humble and stay strong. I hope to stay healthy. Down the line I want to be an All-American. I want to be the best player I can be. I want to get a diploma. I want to just show out."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.