BY CHAD DARE email@example.com
---- — DANVILLE — Chris Collier wishes he had a dollar for every time that he heard someone say that he is too small to play football.
The Danville High senior used those comments as his motivation and this past season, he did something for the Vikings that hasn’t happened in more than a decade.
Collier caught 51 passes this past season for 1,060 yards and 17 touchdowns. Additionally, he rushed for 206 yards, passed for 66 more, had 20 kickoff returns for 453 yards, two punt returns for 39 yards and two interception returns for 15 yards. That’s 1,839 all-purpose yards for the senior, and that wasn’t all he did. Collier also recorded 53 tackles from his defensive back position, four tackles for loss and 11 pass breakups.
Not too bad for a player, who is listed at just 5-feet, 7-inches, and a generous 165 pounds.
“I’ve heard that so many times,’’ said Collier about being too small. “I don’t feel like I’m too small on the football field. I feel like I’m a normal-sized kid on the field.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to being smaller, but as long as you are tough, you will be fine.’’
And Collier was more than fine this year. For his efforts this season, the Danville High senior is the 2013 Commercial-News Player of the Year.
“It was really outstanding season,’’ said senior teammate Trent Sherfield, who played quarterback and defensive back for the Vikings. “Any receiver that goes over 1,000 yards in a season — now that was outstanding.’’
But Collier wasn’t just a receiver for Danville High. He played six other positions this past season.
In the season opener against Bloomington, Collier played running back, receiver, corner back and he was the long snapper. As the season progressed, he made the switch to safety on defense and in Danville’s win over Decatur MacArthur (34-31), he had to come in at quarterback for an injured Sherfield, and he had nine punts this season for the Vikings.
“He is just a tough football player,’’ Danville High coach B.J. Luke said. “The neatest thing about him, is that he likes playing and he enjoys the game. He always gives you great effort.’’
Basically, the only position that Collier didn’t attempt to play in his career at Danville High was the defensive line.
“I don’t want to sit still,’’ Collier said. “I like being on the field. When you love the game, you don’t worry about getting tired.’’
The season-opening loss to Bloomington (55-50) was a definite coming out party for Collier as he had 289 receiving yards on eight catches — three for touchdowns — to go along with 65 rushing yards, 137 kickoff return yards and a 12-yard punt return.
“Any guy that has almost 300 yards receiving in a game and more than 500 yards in a game is going to get noticed around anywhere,’’ Sherfield said.
But after that first game, Collier basically settled into his role as the main receiving threat for the Vikings and Sherfield, while also anchoring the team’s secondary.
“When I got settled into that receiver spot, I was able to focus more,’’ Collier said. “I had more energy because I didn’t have to take all the hits that I was going to take at running back.
“I just basically felt like I could do more at receiver to help my team.’’
That’s also where Collier sees himself playing at the next level.
“Most people think receivers have to be tall,’’ he said. “There are a lot of good receivers that are under 6-foot. You have to be tough and you have to have the ability to catch the ball.’’
Currently in the National Football League, Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson (1,304 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns), New England’s Julian Edleman (991 and six), Denver’s Wes Welker (778 and 10) along with Carolina’s Steve Smith (745 and 4) are in the top 50 for receiving yards and all four of them are under 6-foot.
Smith, a possible NFL Hall of Famer, is just 5-foot-9.
“There are some coaches that believe that I’m too small,’’ said Collier, who is looking at NAIA schools and junior colleges for next season. “If they just let me get on the field, they will see what I can do.
“I’ve had plenty of coaches say that I was a nice, little guy. I’m just waiting for the right coach to give me a chance.’’
Collier really didn’t become a receiver until his junior season at Danville.
“My freshman year, I played quarterback,’’ said Collier. “I came into Danville wanting to change the mindsets of people that thought I was too small.
“No one thought that I would be a key contributor on the varsity team, let alone a 1,000-yard receiver. I was very proud of my time as a Viking.’’
He does have one regret. After being called up for Danville’s state semifinal run in 2010 and being a starter on the 2011 team that reached the quarterfinals, the Vikings failed to reached the playoffs in Collier’s final two seasons.
“I wanted to do anything that I could to get my team into the playoffs this year,’’ he said. “Not making it was frustrating, but we were right there with the best teams in the conference. We just didn’t finish at the end.’’
Ask anyone around Danville about Chris Collier and you might get a quizzical look. Ask them about Butter, and you will get an earful from the people about Danville’s dynamite football player.
That’s right, Chris Collier’s nickname since birth is ‘Butter.’
“I can be somewhere and I hear the little kids say, ‘there’s Butter,’” Collier said. “They don’t even know my name, but they know my nickname.
“I hear it every day. I even have some teachers that call me Butter.’’
So how did he get that moniker?
“Actually, I got it as a baby,’’ Collier said. “I came out like a stick of butter, according to my uncle Gamel Clark. I was yellow-skinned and it has just stuck with me.’’
In addition to football, Collier has played basketball until this season and been on the track team for the Vikings.
Already in preseason workouts, Collier is clearing 13-feet in the pole vault as he tries to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.
“My brother (Cirron Clark) was one of the best pole vaulters in school history,’’ said Collier, as Clark, a redshirt freshman at Illinois State, was fourth in 2012 state meet. “I’ve always tried to follow him and make my parents proud like he has done.
“Cirron and I have always been very competitive. I want to be a Division I athlete just like him.’’
Collier is the son of Chris and Troya Collier. He said he plans on majoring in sports management in college.
“In 10 years, I hope I’m playing in the NFL, but if not, I will have my degree to fall back on,’’ he said. “I want to own a sports business.’’
Surely, someone will tell Collier that he can’t do that, as well. We’ve all seen how that has turned out so far.
First Team Year School Dylan Bina sr. Geo-RF/C Kyle Brazas sr. Westville Lucas Clark sr. No.Vermillion Chris Coller sr. Danville Carson Davis jr. Attica Robby Davis sr. No.Vermillion Jacob Earl so. No.Vermillion Jared Fishero sr. Fountain Cent. Patrick Ganley sr. Bis-Henn Wilde Garowski sr. Bis-Henn Daniel Harrison sr. Fountain Cent. Patrick Hegg jr. Seeger Dustyn Ingram sr. Bis-Henn Tanner Jumps sr. Covington Taylor Kirby sr. Salt Fork Ethan Kunkle sr. No.Vermillion Br. Lappin-Pratt jr. Bis-Henn Trevor Loveall sr. Fountain Cent. Josh Marquez sr. Milford/CP Mitch McCullom sr. Fountain Cent. Steven Meade sr. Salt Fork Koby Pierce jr. Fountain Cent. Jeremy Rivers sr. Westville Troy Rodriguez jr. Geo-RF/C Darrien Rose jr. Danville Trent Sherfield sr. Danville Brady Sheridan sr. Attica Skyler Slade sr. Oakwood/A-P Cole Taylor sr. Salt Fork Brayden Woodard sr. No.Vermillion Second Team Year School Tavion Boyd jr. Danville Jackson Darby so. Bis-Henn Tyler Dicken sr. Westville Abbott Dowers sr. No.Vermillion Bret Green sr. Attica Mason Harding sr. Salt Fork Ben Henrichs sr. Milford/CP Dalton Hilligoss sr. Westville Braeden Hollowell jr. No.Vermillion Zach Horatschki jr. Oakwood/A-P Jacob Hughes sr. Salt Fork Tyler Johnson sr. Salt Fork Zeth Jumps jr. No.Vermillion Jack Kay sr. Seeger Ethan Lee jr. No.Vermillion Jacob Marquez jr. Milford/CP Garrett McFadden sr. Salt Fork Tyler Munson sr. Seeger Jake Osborne so. Geo-RF/C Seth Persinger jr. Covington Tim Pittman sr. Danville Jake Pruitt sr. Westville Austin Ringus sr. Salt Fork Max Stutsman sr. Salt Fork Chase Swinford sr. Bis-Henn Deonta Turner jr. Danville Cristian Viveros sr. Fountain Cent. Matt Willaman jr. Geo-RF/C Lance Whorrall sr. Attica Ethan Woodrow jr. Fountain Cent. Honorable mention -- Mo Abbed, jr., Bismarck-Henning; Corwin Allen, jr., Milford/Cissna Park; Alex Anderson, sr., Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac; Nick Barr, jr., Salt Fork; Lane Bennett, sr., Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac; Matt Birr, jr., Milford/Cissna Park; Trevor Bowlus, jr., Seeger; Frank Briddick, sr., Seeger; Jacob Brown, sr., Fountain Central; Dakota Chapman, jr., Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Will Collins, sr., Bismarck-Henning; Coty Coon, jr., Hoopeston Area; Tyvon Cooper, jr., Danville; Andrew Curley, sr., Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac; Peyton Cutrell, so., Covington; Brian Day, jr., Attica; Damon DeSutter, sr., Attica; Dalton Duncan, so., Bismarck-Henning; Colton Fauver, jr., Salt Fork; Alex Haddock, jr., Fountain Central; Justin Harmeson, sr., Attica; Tyler Hart, sr., Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Nick Hedges, sr., Salt Fork; Gage Hegg, jr., Covington; Matt Kingery, sr., North Vermillion; Jordan Lamb, jr., Salt Fork; Devon Laubscher, jr., Milford/Cissna Park; Parker Lee, jr., Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac; Luke Maddox, sr., Salt Fork; Clayton McGrady, so., Fountain Central; Dylan Mills, jr., Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Michael Murdock, sr., Westville; Andy Nicholson, sr. Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Matt Penry, so., Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Connor Phelps, so., Covington; Donnie Powell, jr., Bismarck-Henning; Dalton Pratt, jr., Bismarck-Henning; Latrey Reed, so., Danville; Austin Reffett, jr., Bismarck-Henning; Colby Roberson, jr., Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman; Jake Rogers, jr., Milford/Cissna Park; Reid Schendel, sr., Bismarck-Henning; Braedon Simon, so., Hoopeston Area; Collin Strange, jr., Fountain Central; Mike Vascura, sr., Danville; Terron Wade, jr., Seeger; Geno Wagoner, so., Hoopeston Area; Hoey Watson, jr., Danville.