FAYETTEVILLE — National Signing Day won't wrap up without some unexpected drama for Arkansas.
South Plantation (Fla.) High running back Alex Collins, who made a verbal commitment to the Razorbacks during a live television broadcast on Monday night, did not participate in his school's signing day ceremony Wednesday morning.
Multiple media outlets have reported the cancellation came because Collins' mother wants him to attend Miami. ESPN's Recruiting Nation reported Collins' mom confiscated his letter-of-intent and left the school with it.
"It's national signing day," said Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who couldn't comment specifically about Collins because he has not signed a letter-of-intent. "You’re going to get surprises good and bad. You’re going to get curveballs thrown at you that you have to adjust to. The thing that’s neat about the signing period is this: It’s a day where you have to adjust and adapt. There’s things that are going to come up. Good coaches, I think, are prepared for different scenarios. Regardless of what happens you can be assured that as a head coach, as a recruiting coach, as position coaches, we’ve always probably been ahead of the game a little bit. ... So we'll adjust to it as we can."
Collins became the key piece Bielema's first Arkansas class when he made his verbal commitment - which is non-binding - during a Fox Sports South television show Monday. He is rated as a five-star prospect by Scout.com and 247Sports. He is the No. 1 running back, according to 247Sports.
He was scheduled to sign with the Razorbacks on Wednesday and South Plantation High was prepared for day, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. A banner with Collins' name was set up for the ceremony. There was a placard with his name on it, too. But the placard was removed and Collins — who was at the school earlier in the morning — left.
"We’re going to give the family as much time as they need to make the right decision,” South Plantation athletic director Mike Collins told the Sun-Sentinel. “At this time there’s no indication of anything other than the original plan. The family just wants more time.”
In fact, CBSSports.com cited a source as saying Collins is expected to sign with Arkansas by the end of the day but "it's just going to take some time."
Collins originally made a verbal commitment to Miami, but changed his mind in November. He reopened his recruitment and the Razorbacks entered the mix when Bielema and his staff arrived at Arkansas. Wisconsin had recruited Collins since his junior season and the running back said he felt comfortable with Bielema and his staff after an official visit.
Collins chose Arkansas over Miami, Florida, Florida State and Wisconsin on Monday night.
Like Bielema, Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge — who has been key in Collins' recruitment for the Razorbacks — couldn't comment on the running back. But he appeared to address the situation via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon: "Poise...Go Hogs #WPS."
Partridge also was asked about dealing with unexpected situations on national signing day after Arkansas unveiled a 22-member class a little later Wednesday. The board listing the 22 signees also included space for No. 23. But there was no name next to the number.
“I think the thing you have to respect is, it’s a family decision," Partridge said. "I think you have to respect the fact that it’s not an easy decision. That while today is national letter-of-intent day, this is not the deadline. You have to respect that this is a life-changing decision for these guys. Respect things and things tend to work out the way you hope they will.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau