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Collington shoulders big load

Kevin Gorman
| Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004

It is common practice for college football programs to ask borderline Division-I prospects to send tapes from their first three games for evaluation.

Ed Collington will be happy to oblige.

The Penn Hills tailback has exceeded his own expectations by rushing for 699 yards and 11 touchdowns on 61 carries and has emerged as a bona fide major-college running back prospect.

"You have to think that way your senior year," Collington said. "You have to think big. I wanted to go out and play big. I just didn't think it would be this big."

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior is averaging 11.5 yards per carry and 233 yards per game this season. And he has yet to play in the fourth quarter. At this pace, he'll break his junior season total of 959 yards by Week 5 and his two-year total of 1,275 yards by Week 7.

"It never happened before, so it's a new thing for me," Collington said. "It feels good to be averaging 200 yards a game. I needed to do something big to catch the eye of a good school."

Not bad for someone who is playing with a separated left shoulder and has to wear a special brace for protection. It threatened to halt his aspirations of a breakthrough season before doctors told Collington he could have surgery now or wait until December.

"They said if I had surgery I wouldn't be able to play the rest of the season, so I just took a chance," Collington said. "It doesn't hurt at all. I feel no pain at all."

Opponents only wish they could say the same. With Collington shouldering the load, they can only brace themselves.

Collington opened the season with 197 yards and three touchdowns in a lightning-shortened win at North Allegheny. He followed with 257 yards and four touchdowns against Plum, and added 245 yards and four touchdowns Friday against Connellsville.

Last season, Collington showed glimpses of this potential. He rushed for 179 yards against Woodland Hills in the season finale and 189 yards against Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals.

Collington isn't afraid to use his sculpted physique and 4.5-second 40 speed to his advantage. He's known for lowering his shoulder and running over opponents, but he also has displayed a burst of explosiveness. He has six scoring runs inside the 10 and eight inside the 30, but he also has broken off 57-, 58- and 80-yarders.

"I'm a power back with good vision, quick feet and I can catch," Collington said. "I see myself as an all-purpose back."

Collington has a scholarship offer from Akron and is receiving interest from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan and others. He made an unofficial visit to Ohio State on Saturday, and is hoping his fast start makes an immediate impression.

"That's just making it better for me," Collington said. "If they see I'm this good, they'll see I can make improvements and be even better."

Just give him three more games.

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