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April 12, 2004MIAMI - When Miami Monsignor Pace coach Joe Zaccheo speaks, college coaches listen.
Considered one of the deans of high school football in Miami, Zaccheo's opinion packs a powerful punch, and when he says that he's got one of the top running backs in the state of Florida and quite possibly the nation, everybody certainly takes notice.
That back is 5-foot-11, 220-pound power rushing machine Conredge Collins. The son of former New England Patriot Tony Collins, Collins rushed for around 1,800 yards as a junior and is already racking up scholarship offers.
"He came to us in the eighth grade, and we knew right away that this kid was going to be something special," Zaccheo said. "You could see he had this potential to great, and he's worked hard at making sure that he's getting better and better each day. He's got a great work ethic and has worked hard at improving his speed.
Collins didn't run the 40-yard dash at the Miami NIKE Training Camp, but a few weeks earlier clocked a 4.53-second time at the NIKE Speed Camp. Combine that with his powerful 5-foot-11, 220-pound frame and his ability to dominate in the one-on-one drills, it was clear that this cat was something special.
Yet, all of that's not a surprise to Zaccheo.
"We run a bastardized version of the Wing-T," his coach said. "He basically lines up at fullback for us, which is where we put our feature back at. He can run it between the tackles and has some impressive power. But we're also not afraid to throw it to him in open space and let him take a defender on one-on-one.
"He's really a tailback in a power fullback's body. We're going to use a few more old-fashioned and traditional formations this year and we're intent on using his running ability."
Zaccheo believes the sky is the limit for his star back. With scholarship offers already on the table from Iowa, N.C. State, Rutgers and East Carolina and heavy interest also coming from Kansas State and Miami, he believes he could be the best running back in the state of Florida by the time this upcoming season is over.
Antone Smith and Maurice Wells might have something to say about that, but there is no doubting that Collins is special.
"He's a good kid and he's intent on being the best person and best player that he can be," his coach said. He's willing to put the time in that it takes to get better every day. He's one of the hardest working kids that we have.
"I think he gets a lot of that from his dad. He just strives hard every day and will be here every day this summer working hard."
Collins isn't alone when it comes to being a blue-chip player on the Pace roster.
Safety Quinton Andrews, who is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, already has offers from Tulane, Rutgers and Iowa and is also being recruited by Miami, Florida, N.C. State and several others, has the ability to be an impact at several positions - but safety looks to be his future.
"He had two interceptions in the state game for us, and he's our featured defensive back," Zaccheo said.
"He's got great hips and great feet. He's an absolute playmaker. He's a natural at receiver, but with his ability to break on the ball he just fits perfectly at safety."
Andrews earned first-team all-Dade County and second-team all-state honors as a junior. He racked up 78 solo tackles, 50 assists, 12 tackles for a loss and four interceptions. He's clearly a ball-hawking safety that will be sure to see his stock shoot through the roof with a good senior season.