|Title:||Head Football Coach|
Collins at introductory press conference: Dec. 30, 2010
Football coaches often say the most improvement happens on the field between games one and two in a season.
Northern Colorado head coach Earnest Collins, Jr., showed the same might be true between seasons. In his first year at the helm of the Bears, the team struggled through a winless season, but turned the tide and finished 2012 with a 5-6 record -- including a 4-4 mark in Big Sky Conference play.
In 2013, Collins hopes to continue the positive trend and challenge for a conference title. With six starters returning on each side of the ball, a strong signing class, as well as seven home games, year three looks to be even better than year two.
The Bears ranked fifth in the nation in punt returns in 2012, averaging 17.20 yards per return. They were also 24th in passing offense (259.09). Returners Seth Lobato and Tromaine Dennis individually ranked among the top 50 in the country as Lobato was 28th in total offense with 250.91 yards per game and Dennis was 46th in rushing with 85.73 a contest.
Collins, the Northern Colorado single-season school record holder for punt return yards and a former assistant coach for the Bears, was named head football coach on Dec. 28, 2010.
He is the 16th football coach in school history and the first to return to his alma mater to serve as head coach. In 1996, Collins received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Northern Colorado after playing for the Bears from 1991-94, where he amassed 978 punt return yards, then the school record and still second all-time. His 497 punt return yards from his senior season are still atop the school’s leader board.
After a stellar career at Northern Colorado, where he lettered every season from 1991 through 1994 and earned all-conference honors in 1994, Collins spent 1996-99 at Northwest Missouri State as the secondary and assistant special teams coach, helping the Bearcats to the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Division II National Championships. In both seasons, Collins and the Bearcats got the best of the Bears in the playoffs, winning the quarterfinals in 1998 in Maryville (42-17) and then winning the 1999 semifinals at Nottingham Field (41-35).
From 2000-03, Collins returned to Greeley where he served as the secondary and special teams coach. In 2002, the Bears reached the NCAA Division II Semifinals and had the top-ranked defense in the North Central Conference (NCC) and No. 8 defense among Division II (249.8 yards per game).
After his second coaching stint with UNC, Collins became the special teams and cornerbacks coach at Kansas from 2003-06. The Jayhawks advanced to two bowl games and he coached a pair of All-Americans in the defensive backfield.
He spent 2007 at Central Florida before heading to Alcorn State in 2008 as the associate head coach. In 2009, he was elevated to head coach at Alcorn State.
In two years at the helm of Alcorn State, the Braves went 8-12 with significant signs of improvement. Alcorn State ranked 30th in FCS in scoring offense in 2010, averaging 29.64 points per game.
Collins and his wife Tabatha have two daughters, Tayler and Marci.