South Plantation High football star Alex Collins, one of the most sought-after running backs in the nation, had the moves to attract scholarship offers from the finest programs in the country — and bounced among his favorites.
But on Wednesday, National Signing Day, his mother proved even more elusive.
After Collins announced his decision on television Monday to attend the University of Arkansas, Andrea McDonald refused to go along with her son’s choice and bolted from his high school ceremony Wednesday morning without signing his National Letter of Intent.
Her school of choice: Miami.
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“She said she didn’t want to sign,’’ Collins’ older brother Johnny, 20, told The Miami Herald by phone. “I know she preferred him to go to UM. Alex had said he was going to the U, and then all of a sudden he changes his mind. We found out he was going to Arkansas on TV.’’
Johnny said he and his older sister accompanied their mother, a single parent, to South Plantation High at about 10:45 a.m. for the would-be signing ceremony, and that the siblings were told to wait in the room with “the public and media’’ while she and Alex went into a separate room. But “a couple minutes later,’’ Johnny said, his mother left.
“She’s having anxiety,’’ Johnny said.
The National Letter of Intent, according to the official website, is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. “If you are under the age of 21, regardless of marital status, your parent or legal guardian must sign the NLI in order for it to be considered valid,’’ the website states.
“They still needed her signature,’’ Collins’ brother said. “You can’t sign yourself over. It’s in black and white. But I didn’t expect any of this to happen. I’m as confused as everyone else.’’
Wednesday was the first day of the regular signing period for college football. Collins has until April 1 to sign a letter of intent, no matter what college he attends.
NBC6 reported late Wednesday that Collins said he intends to sign with Arkansas on Thursday, though he did not address the parental issue.
Collins, 18, is rated the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back by 247Sports.com, a major recruiting website. He was formerly committed to the University of Miami before backing off his oral pledge in November. Arkansas entered the scenario in early December, and Collins, who still had Miami as a possibility after raving about his Jan. 18 visit to UM, chose the Razorbacks over UM, Florida State, Wisconsin and Florida.
“I like the fact they run the ball,’’ Collins said Monday night when asked why he picked Arkansas. “I personally know the coaches. …I think I can trust them. I feel like they can lead me to where I want to be on the next level, academically and athletically. I feel like if I have a problem in school they’ll provide that extra help to lift me.’’
Collins ran for 1,275 yards and 14 touchdowns on 155 carries as a senior and helped lead his team to a district title.
UM was the first school to offer Collins a scholarship, and he committed to the Canes in January 2012. After his decommitment in November, he never ruled the Canes out.
When asked Wednesday if UM had any scholarships left for its 2013 class, Hurricanes coach Al Golden said, “I can’t really comment on a specific story percolating, but we have room for about one more. That’s about it.’’
Johnny said Alex has not communicated very much with his family the past several days. “He’ll come home, eat food and just chill in his room,” he said. “All this is getting to him.
“I would prefer him to go to Miami, too, because it would be a better program for him, a better environment. He could get home faster and it’s more convenient if Mom wants to go to a game — instead of having to fly to Arkansas.’’
A source familiar with the family said Collins’ mother went to the school Tuesday to angrily complain to administrators and coaches about the situation.
South Plantation athletic director Mike Collins (no relation) and football coach Doug Gatewood did not respond to phone messages left by The Miami Herald.
South Plantation teammate John Franklin, bound for Florida State, was at the high school along with a few classmates, when Collins’ mother — and then Collins — left the premises.
Asked where Collins was, Franklin said, “It was a complicated situation.’’
Miami Herald sportswriters Manny Navarro and David Furones contributed to this report.