Running back signs, ends bizarre recruiting saga

Alex Collins' mother hires attorney from Cochran Firm

PLANTATON, Fla. - Alex Collins was dressed in a camouflage jumpsuit, complete with a matching tie.

Maybe an odd choice, considering that on the day he was supposed to sign his letter of intent with Arkansas, it was his mother's signature that couldn't be found.

No matter. A day later than he intended — and after yet another odd twist to his recruiting saga — Collins signed with the Razorbacks on Thursday. The highly rated and highly coveted running back from South Plantation High near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., did so with his father providing the written consent required by NCAA rules.

Collins said his mother, who would not sign the letter of intent on Wednesday as many expected, supported his college decision.

On Thursday afternoon, Collins' mother was notably absent from his hastily scheduled event on Thursday, and a law firm founded by former O.J. Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran said that Andrea McDonald retained their services to represent "the family's interests."

Local 10's Ross Palombo spoke with Collins about the confusion late Thursday.

"I appreciate her for it, and we talked about it. Everything's fine," said Collins.

When Palombo asked whether the mother retained an attorney, Collins said, "That's not right... not at my acknowledgement."

"It's over, she doesn't plan on pursuing this any further?" Palombo said.

"I don't think so," said Collins.

"I don't find what happened yesterday anything other than a family needing time to rethink things and there's nothing wrong with that," said coach Mike Collins.

That announcement was made about 45 minutes before Alex Collins and his father Johnny Collins put pens to paper, officially sealing his college choice.

"I'm happy it's over," Alex Collins said. "I didn't think about going anywhere else because I had my mind set. This is where I wanted to go. I just talked to my mom. I let her know. I explained myself and we have a better understanding."

The running back said he was unaware that his mother hired attorney Jack Paris from the Cochran Law Firm, insisting that "no one hired any lawyers." But in a statement Thursday, Paris said the Collins family wanted "to make a clean choice that is free of any outside influences."

After Collins signed, Paris issued a statement, saying: "Ms. McDonald understands that Alex has received consent from his father who has signed the letter-of-intent for him to play football for the University of Arkansas. However, our client's initial intentions remain unchanged. She is a loving and caring mother who only wants her son to choose a university without any outside and inappropriate influences. Ms. McDonald hopes all NCAA rules and regulations were followed during today's signing. She is not seeking any personal financial gain because her only concern is for Alex's happiness and well being. The Cochran Firm is standing by Ms. McDonald in this difficult time and has made all of the firm's resources available to her as she explores her options."

"The last conversation with her was why I chose Arkansas and I told her why I felt the love at Arkansas and she understood and supports me 100 percent," said Alex Collins. "It's understandable. You don't want to make a mistake and regret it for the rest of your life."

"It's where he wanted to go," said Johnny Collins, who was not part of Wednesday's planned ceremony.

Alex Collins ran for 2,915 yards and scored 38 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons, with some services touting him as the top all-purpose runner in this year's recruiting class. He originally committed to Miami, then opened his recruiting up in order to see other parts of the country. He said the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Hurricanes' athletic compliance practices played no role in his decision.

He said his mother is fine with the choice to go to Arkansas, but was leery that he was committing to go to school far from home and was worried that he had not fully thought the decision through. Collins said his mother missed Thursday's event because of her work schedule.

"From her standpoint, she wants to make sure this is the right decision for me," he said.

Arkansas said it received the paperwork shortly after Collins' signing event concluded.

Collins' recruitment was only one of the headline-grabbing stories involving this past season's South Plantation football roster. In August, South Plantation senior Erin Dimeglio became the first female to play quarterback for a Florida boys' high school team.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.