Austin Collie stretched his beloved game of football as far as he could.
He enjoyed the touchdowns as a wide receiver and endured the pain brought on by numerous concussions. Now he’s ready to tackle a new chapter.
The Sacramento Bee’s Player of the Decade for the 2000s when he, played multiple positions at Oak Ridge High School, Collie retired from the pro game last week, though he isn’t entirely out of the sporting life.
Collie logged five NFL seasons as a receiver beginning in 2009, when the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the fourth round out of BYU. But three frightening concussions derailed his promising career.
Collie, 30, now will work with athletes at Cognitive FX, a concussion rehabilitation and research clinic in Provo, Utah. He has gone from Cognitive FX patient to facility therapist of sorts, embracing his new calling as something he may “do for life.”
In his new role, Collie talks with patients and engages them in exercises for mental sharpness. He works with athletes – both genders – of all ages and sports, including soccer.
“Were (my) injuries significant? Yeah,” Collie told KSL.com in Utah. “It’s not good when you’re lying face down in the turf, unconscious for several minutes.
“I want to make people aware,” Collie continued. “I want to make players aware that, ‘Hey, you may have had something, but that doesn’t mean there’s doomsday right around the corner.’ ”
After departing BYU as the program’s most prolific receiver, Collie finished with 179 receptions for 1,908 yards and 16 touchdowns in the NFL. All but six of those receptions came with the Colts from 2009 to 2012.
Collie’s last NFL season was with the New England Patriots in 2013, when he appeared in seven games, including one start. Last season, he had 43 catches for 439 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Yuba opportunity – Syd Thompson is trying his hand at college football coaching in relative obscurity at Yuba College in Marysville.
The former Bee All-Metro standout at Grant started four years at cornerback at Cal and had his NFL career cut short by injury, so he got into coaching. He was an assistant coach at Grant the last five seasons and last week was hired as a Yuba assistant.
“I want to help players get a start in college,” said Thompson, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Feb. 7 by watching kid brother Shaq Thompson start at linebacker for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Alabama impression – Jonah Williams, a two-time Bee All-Metro selection at Folsom whom numerous area coaches call the most dominant prep lineman in regional history, has impressed coaches in spring drills at Alabama.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound, five-star recruit enrolled at Alabama in December, and he has seen a lot of time at left and right offensive tackle in workouts, including reps with the first team.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and teammates have raved about Williams in media reports. Saban lauded Williams’ athletic ability, intelligence, strength and versatility. Linebacker Shaun Hamilton told Alabama media last week: “Jonah has stood out a lot. He’s doing great, adjusting to everything.”
Cal addition – Thin at linebacker, Cal has signed American River College All-American Jordan Kunaszyk to a letter of intent. The 6-3, 235-pound sophomore-to-be had 118 tackles last season for the state-ranked Beavers.
Kunaszyk, who played at Roseville, missed his freshman season at ARC after breaking his hand on the 2014 season-opening kickoff. He was redshirted to preserve his eligibility.
ARC coach Jon Osterhout said Kunaszyk is one of the brightest and most talented players he has worked with, adding, “He’s as good as advertised.”