Anthony Collins and Aqib Talib talk NFL Draft decisions
Both visibly relieved to have one of the toughest decisions of their lives out of the way, KU juniors Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins met with the media Tuesday evening on what will be the last day in Lawrence for each of the NFL hopefuls.
Talib, the MVP of last week's FedEx Orange Bowl, and Collins, along with Talib a first team All-American selection following KU's historic 12-1 2007 ride, both leave tomorrow for Tempe, Ariz. There, they will train leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft Combine, held in Indianapolis from Feb. 20-26.
Both also have selected the same agent in Todd France.
And both, who came into KU together four years ago, went with their guts on this one.
"There's plenty of things that can keep people here, but when your heart says one thing and your mind says one thing, sometimes you need to go with your heart," said Collins, the monster left tackle. "And sometimes you need to go with your mind. Both my mind and my heart said you need to go to the next level. You need to get better at the next level, you need to get paychecks, you need to just meet more people, you need to grow up, and I'm gonna mature at the next level."
He also took in outside advice from family, mentors and former Jayhawks in the NFL such as Adrian Jones, Charles Gordon and Brandon Rideau.
Collins, sporting a sparkling medallion around his name with the inscription "AC, First Team All-American, #78," was an Outland Trophy finalist this season after anchoring the Jayhawks' offensive line.
The one man who may miss Collins the most is quarterback Todd Reesing, who tore up the KU passing record books as a sophomore.
"On the way back to the airport after the Orange Bowl, he looked at me and said 'You're not going to the league, right?," Collins recalled. "I was like 'Nah, Todd, I ain't goin' nowhere.' Then he called me last night and said 'You lied to me...'
"Then he hung up the phone in my face," Collins added with a laugh.
Reesing Collins' departure means KU will lose five starters from this season's prolific offense. The four graduating seniors are receiver Marcus Henry, right tackle Cesar Rodriguez, tight end Derek Fine and running back Brandon McAnderson.
As for the defensive side of the ball, Talib's bolt for the NFL leaves the cupboard far from bare, as his starting spot will be filled by one of two guys who got starting experience this season - junior college transfer Kendrick Harper or Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year Chris Harris.
Talib said the decision was all that was on his mind for the past two days, but in the end, the timing was just right.
"Us having a successful season, it kind of kept something else on my mind (during the year)," he said. "The season itself kept it off my mind."
In fact, Talib said the decision wasn't solidified until just recently.
"If we wouldn't have been that successful this year, I don't think I would have left," Talib said. "Like I said last year, I couldn't leave like that - 6-6, no bowl game. You can't leave like that. This year, great season for us, MVP in the Orange Bowl, it was like the perfect way to go out for me."
Both also offered their opinions on the final AP poll being released Tuesday morning, which had KU finishing as the No. 7 team in the land.
"We'll take it," said Talib, who added that he had not heard the results until that moment. "That's wonderful. You know how we are, we couldn't care less."
Collins was of a different opinion...sort of.
"Man, we need to be No. 1," he claimed. "We had a good year, we got great coaches, and we had a great class, man. We need to be No. 1. They're tryin' to get us, but we'll take it."
For more on this story, read Wednesday's Journal-World and log back onto KUSports.com.