Polk State Baseball's Nick Collins goes from full-time landscaper to All-State performer
Fresh out of high school, Polk State Baseball’s All-State designated hitter Nick Collins spent his weekdays in the field but not one with a diamond, dugout, or bleachers. For the first year out of Springstead High School in Spring Hill, Fla. “I’m grateful for those days and the people I worked with,” Collins said. Collins didn’t have a single scholarship offer as a high school athlete. In hopes of getting a chance to play collegiately, Collins spent his weekends playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) travel baseball in a division for ages 18 and under. “I knew I had the ability, I knew I had the power, I knew it was just a matter of time,” Collins recalled. Polk State head coach Al Corbeil had seen highlight clips of Collins and was impressed with his swing and high school power numbers. “I was just watching at some of the fields,” Corbeil said. “I hit a grand slam right in front of (assistant) Coach (Jake) Rogers and that set us up for a visit,” Collins said. Collins, a University of Houston signee, has spent the last three years playing first base and serving as the designated hitter for the Eagles.
When it comes to his Polk State career, however, things didn’t start as smoothly. “It was a kid who you could tell was untouched,” Corbeil said. “Over winter break when I was doing classes to be able to play in the spring, it tore me down a little bit. After going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts during an exhibition in the fall of 2019, Collins was frustrated and running laps on the field after the game when an assistant coach took notice. A native of Texas, Rogers is a diehard fan of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. “He ended up talking to me for hours about everything,” Collins recalled. In his second season, Collins would find his power and he led the team with nine home runs and 59 RBIs while hitting . “We worked with him a lot and tinkered with his swing and with his stance,” Corbeil said. As coaches saw the power he was generating, they joked that Collins would one day have a parking lot named after him because that’s where his hits would land. “I’m not just going to Houston as Nick Collins,” he said.
Despite being selected as an All-State performer in each of the last two seasons, Collins said the team accomplishments take priority. “I’m more happy with what we accomplished as a team and how we grew the last three years,” he said. Collins will take his talents to Houston in August where he’ll play for head coach Todd Whiting. “To have a kid like that who didn’t have an opportunity anywhere to become the player he is has been incredible,” Corbeil said. Collins is still contemplating what he wants to do when his baseball career is over. “I plan on having a long career in professional baseball,” he said. “Eventually, I want to help young players with hitting mechanics,” Collins continued. Collins’ ability to hit for average, power and to drive in runs will certainly be missed in the middle of the Polk State lineup.
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