Former Michigan WR Nico Collins Talks Opting Out of 2020 Season Amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2020

Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins plays against Michigan State in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season was a driving factor in wide receiver Nico Collins' decision to opt out of his senior campaign at Michigan.

Collins told The Adam Schefter Podcast on Tuesday night that the Big Ten's initial decision to postpone fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic was "heartbreaking":

"They canceled the season and that was heartbreaking for me. They were saying in the spring, Thanksgiving, it was too many unknown questions to be answering. Nobody really had an answer to it. I sat down with my family, and I just made a business decision because I felt like I was in no-man's land for a minute, because I came back to play my senior season and they canceled it."

The Big Ten reversed course in September, announcing it would stage an eight-game season that will open Friday. As a result, some players who opted out decided to return to their programs. 

Collins thought about suiting up for the Wolverines but came to the conclusion he'll continue preparing for the 2021 draft.

"Getting my mind right and prepared for the combine was the right decision for me," he said.

Unlike former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Collins isn't widely regarded as one of the top talents in the upcoming draft class. Parsons is already considered a top-10 talent, so he didn't stand to gain much in 2020 on that front.

Collins, on the other hand, could've benefited from another season to solidify his value.

ESPN's Todd McShay ranked Collins 26th overall on his preseason big board. Pro Football Focus' Michael Renner wasn't as high on the 6'4" pass-catcher, putting him at No. 84. Matt Miller of B/R projected him as the 68th overall pick in his most recent mock draft.

Collins' departure was undoubtedly a big blow for Michigan, which already had to replace Donovan Peoples-Jones and roll with a new starting quarterback in 2020.

The Wolverines' 56-27 defeat to Ohio State last season was a reminder of how wide the gulf remains between two of the Big Ten's premier schools. With so much turnover in the passing game, Michigan is likely to remain a class below the Buckeyes.