The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

September 6, 2013

Danville's Mr. Everything

Collier had more than 500 all-purpose yards in season opener

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Chris Collier spent nearly his entire weekend, thinking about and reliving the 60-yard touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds of last week’s 55-50 loss to Bloomington.

He still cannot understand how he didn’t tackle Kendrick Cooley on the 15-yard line as he got both of his arms around the running back’s shoulders.

“It wasn’t easy to get past that. I beat myself up the whole weekend about it,’’ said Collier, not even thinking about the other four big scoring plays for the Purple Raiders. “I finally did realize that it wasn’t just one play that lost that game.

“Now, it’s a lesson learned for me, because I’m not basing my whole season on that one play.’’

Especially, considering the four-year varsity player for the Vikings was actually on the field for 128 plays at a hot and humid Fred Carlton Field in Bloomington.

“I just do whatever my team needs me to do,’’ said Collier, who played seven different positions. “It’s not like I’m ever going to tell coach that I don’t want to do something — that’s not the type of person that I am.’’

There are only two things that Danville coach B.J. Luke didn’t ask Collier to do last week. First, he didn’t drive the bus and he didn’t kick or punt the ball.

“I think he could even kick it, if we needed him do it,’’ said Luke, as Collier does have 1 punt for 30 yards in his Danville career. “He is just a tough football player. The neatest thing about him, is that he likes playing and he enjoys the game. He always gives you great effort.’’

Collier said the only position he hasn’t played during his career is the defensive line, as the senior is the long snapper for the Vikings punting unit.

“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.’’

And while it appeared that mentally wore down at times last week, his statistics tell a remarkable story.

Collier, who played both running back and receiver for the Vikings, accounted for 354 yards of total offense. That included 289 receiving yards — the 10th best in Illinois state history — on just eight receptions, three of those for touchdowns.

“I said early in the year, that he was going to be our Terry Metcalf,’’ said Luke referring to the former St. Louis Cardinals standout. “And he kind of put on a Terry Metcalf-like performance in the first game.’’

In addition to his rushing and receiving numbers, Collier also had 149 return yards — 137 of those came on seven kickoff returns.

“I had a good game, catching-wise,’’ said Collier, who also had two pass breakups on defense. “But, I feel like I could have done a better job of blocking to help out Trent (Sherfield), and it would have felt a lot better if we would have won.’’

The victory was the only thing missing.

“People always try to put down Chris because of his size,’’ said Sherfield about the 5-foot-7, 165-pounder. “He plays football like he’s my height (6-1) and his athleticism is unbelievable. I trust him against anyone in the state.’’

According to both Collier and Sherfield that trust has been developed over years of playing together.

“It’s been our whole life,’’ Sherfield said. “We have gone to school since we were really young, and we were teammates on the Carver Park Bears.

“I know what he thinks and he knows what I’m thinking. No one can get between that.’’

In spite of his size, Sherfield, who is committed to playing at Vanderbilt next year, believes that Collier can make at the next level.

“I think the receiver position fits me better, because there are guys my size playing that spot in college,’’ said Collier, who had five receptions of 30 yards or more. “The key is good route running. You can’t just directly run your route, you need to work the defensive back.

“A lot of that comes from working with your quarterback, and I still have a lot of things to learn.’’

In his final year at Danville, Collier has become a more vocal leader. Quite a difference from his early years as he just quietly blended into the defensive unit.

“I think that comes from playing with an older brother,’’ Collier said of Cirron Clark, who is in his second year at Illinois State. “Playing with him is one my greatest memories. I always he was there for me, and now, I feel like I have to step it up to make him proud of me.’’

Catching on Top 10 games for receiving yards 1. Mark Hiben, Glenbard West (319 yard) vs. Lincoln-Way East (Nov. 6, 2010) 2. Pete Bylsma, Hinsdale Central (317 yards) vs. Evanston (1971) 3. J.J. Witherow, Manteno (315 yards) vs. Peoria Notre Dame (2011) 4. Joe Coia, Riverside-Brookfield (314 yards) vs. Sycamore (2002) 5. D.J. Wilson, Riverside-Brookfield (306 yards) vs. Bensenville Fenton (Oct. 2, 2004) 6. Eyad Salem, Elgin Larkin (305 yards) vs Antioch (Sept. 3, 2004) 7. D.J. Wilson, Riverside-Brookfield (303 yards) vs. Bensenville Fenton (2004) 8. Joey Coia, Riverside-Brookfield (297 yards) vs. Evergreen Park (Sept. 26, 2003) 9. Tony Lopez, Dundee (291 yards) vs. Cary-Grove (1982) 10. Chris Coller, Danville (289 yards) vs. Bloomington (Aug. 30, 2013) Source: IHSA