EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – After having a breakout year during his redshirt freshman campaign Michigan State running back Elijah Collins thought he would be able to perform at an even higher level during the 2020-21 season, yet it didn’t work out that way. In fact, it was drastically different.
Collins only had 41 carries compared to his 222 in the 2019 season. He also only rushed for 90 yards versus a team-best 988, which also happened to be fourth in the Big Ten. In 2019 he was also just 12 yards shy of becoming MSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Jeremy Langford in 2014.
What happened? COVID-19.
“Last year was a really crazy year, for not only me, but for a lot of people and a lot of people’s families,” said Collins. “When people come back positive there’s a lot of things that go into that and with me, last year, that’s kind of what happened to me.”
On a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon Collins revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer, which would have been the summer leading into his redshirt sophomore campaign.
“It took a toll on me back then,” said Collins. “I lost weight, muscle, like wind, all of that stuff. It really took a deep affect but I didn’t have any symptoms to start off with so that’s what was scary to me because how many lingering affects will it have?”
Collins said his symptoms lasted for a couple of weeks, but after that he didn’t think twice about COVID-19. He said his positive test kept him out of some of the summer conditioning workouts last year and while other’s were getting ahead, and able to partake, he was sitting at home.
“Originally I had to sit out because someone I was close to had got COVID-19 at first,” said Collins. “I didn’t test positive exactly at that time, but I still had to wait two weeks. Then on top of that, I tested positive the following week. So, the span wasn’t two weeks. It actually turned out to be almost a month for me so it set me back even further. It was around that time when the season had started, I was not ready to go.”
It was evident in MSU’s season opener against Rutgers that something wasn’t the same for Collins. He was only able to muster three yards on nine carries. Then, the next week, at Michigan he had just one carry.
“I was giving everything I had, but I really didn’t have too much to give if that sounds right?,” said Collins.
The rumors started to swirl. People started to speculate he wasn’t impressing the new coaching staff or living up to Mel Tucker’s standards, but that wasn’t the case and when people were asking, ‘What’s going on with Elijah Collins?’ there were multiple times he wanted to explain his situation.
“I would want to just reach out and tell everybody what was exactly going on, but for me personally and my mental health, I felt like just keep it to myself and keep my head low,” said Collins. “Just do the work and do what I can now really helped the most. I got bombarded with DM’s (direct messages) asking me, ‘Where you at? What are you doing? What’s going on?’ but like they don’t really know what’s actually happening. So for me to tell each and every person that would have been a lot. A lot of stress I feel like.”
Now they know.