CATEGORY: FOC College Football
REBUILDING IN BOONEVILLE
NORTHEAST OFFERS A MAJOR CHALLENGE TO NEWCOMER LAURIN COLLINS
By Todd Vinyard
BOONEVILLE The knock on the open door proceeds a shy question.
“Are you the new football coach?” ask the knocker.
The white-haired man sitting behind a mountain of paper work says smiling,”I sure am. Laurin Collins, can I help you?”
“Well, I am Mrs. Green and I teach English in the building and was wondering if I could use the phone,” the knocker says a little more confidently.
Collins stands up focusing attention on Mrs. Green, “Sure, go right ahead. Good to meet you.”
If sheer force of personality can build a winning football program, then Collins may be on the way to something no other coach has done since 1987: A winning year in football at Northeast Community College.
“Meeting people has never been a big problem for me,” said Collins, who took over the job on Feb. 15th for Gunter Brewer, who took an assistant coaching post at Marshall. “I can take my Red Man out and lean up next to the pickup truck and talk to a farmer, or I can put on a tie and go meet the board.”
Besides shaking hands Collins, 55, can coach some football, too.
The Laurel native had served as offensive coordinator at Mississippi College since 1987 prior to becoming head coach at Northeast. Collins helped compile a 60-37-5 record including a NCAA Division II National Championship in 1989.
Collins also coached at Vicksburg High School, Delta State, University of Richmond, and Clinton High School. During his stint at Clinton in the mid-1980’s Collins coach players like Kyle Morris while working under Tupelo High School football coach James Sloan.
“Northeast could not have found a better person to take that job,” Sloan said. “He is a solid football coach and worker.”
There is work to be done at Northeast. The team is coming off an 0-10 season. Collins didn’t come on board until Feb. 14th almost a week after signing day.
“We have a lot to do, but it is just a matter of setting your priorities and getting things done,” said Collins, a 23-year coaching veteran. “I know what to do.”
– The first thing Collins did was get some local talent. Jamie Pittman, who ran for 1,027 yards and threw for 1,030 at Booneville High School last season, has signed.
– Next Collins hired Dominic Green as an assistant coach. Green played under Collins at Mississippi College on the 1989 National Championship squad. Last year Green served as the offensive line and tight end coach at Middle Tennessee State University.
“Since I played for Coach Collins and worked with him at Mississippi College, we know each other real well,” Green said.
Now the top priorities are being visible with local coaches, making good decisions on out-of-state recruits, and bringing a winning attitude to town.
“I am not going to promise any kind of record, but people are going to know they played a football game after lining up against us,” Collins said.
The white hair and winning football talk should sound familiar. Collins is the younger brother of Bobby Collins the successful former head coach at Southern Methodist University and Southern Mississippi.
“Our family has always been very supportive,” Bobby said. “My sister was in the band while I was an assistant at Mississippi State University, and Laurin was playing at Delta State. Our parents went to as many games as they could and then were back home in time for church on Sunday.”
Those strong family bonds remain. Bobby Collins says his brother is ready to be a head coach, and will have no problem in one area.
“If you are near him you will meet him,” Bobby said.
You can also use the coaches office phone, if you ask.