ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High track sprinter Alex Collier, the Class 3A 400 meter champion last year, brought a little playfulness to his college signing ceremony on Wednesday with his three colleges of choice hats on display in the school's cafetorium.
"The whole recruiting process is very stressful," said Collier, who had his mom, sister and family all in attendance at the Orange Park High School ceremony."I had a top five list, but was not really sure which school I would choose until recently."
Collier, a smiling assassin of track opposition all of last year in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, first donned the University of Miami hat while family and friends applauded his apparent decision on where he will share his speed next year, but left the Florida State University and Texas Tech University hats on the table.
With a quick zip of his warmup zipper, Collier surprised those present by standing and showing off a Seminole shirt underneath as his choice had been made.
"Florida State has been on my radar ever since this all started," said Collier. "They were always the most interested."
FSU's mens track won the ACC title last year for indoor and outdoor track with an 11th place finish in outdoor track in the NCAAs and 21st in the NCAA indoor championships. The Seminoles won outdoor track titles in 2006 and 2008. The Seminoles have a history of sprint NCAA champions dating back to 1979 led by eight time NCAA champion and 18 time All-American Walter Dix (a 9.91 best in the 100 and 19.69 in the 200), also a U.S. Olympian; bronze in 100 and 200 in 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The FSU top 10 in the 400 all are under 46 seconds with the top time at 44.62.
Collier noted that his run down in the 400 of Miami Norland's Tyrese Cooper as his breakout race of 2018. Cooper would win in 47.16 with Collier second in 47.33. Cooper also won the 100 in 19.53 with Collier fifth in 10.97 and the 200 in 21.15. Collier did not run the 200.
"That was the Bob Hayes race and I went out a little too slow because I knew he was in the race," said Collier. "I surged at the 200 mark and just barely missed beating him. I knew then that I could run faster than him. I was going to run my race next time we met."
Cooper, a freshman sensation at Class 4A American High in Miami blasted state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 in that 2016 season, but then fell off the radar with legal troubles and an arrest in the next few years that kept him in the news more than his track achievements.
"I want to do the 100, 200 400 and set records in all of them this year," said Collier. "I think I have proven that I'm fast enough in all three."
Collier finished third in the 100 this year with Cooper disqualified after the final for chastising an official. Collier had finished ahead of Cooper in the race; won by Marcus Fleming of Miami Northwestern in 10.62 with Northwestern teammate Jaquez Stuart second in 10.71 and Collier third in 10.75. Fleming and Stuart would also finish 1-2 in the 200.
In the 400, Collier, who was second fastest qualifier behind Cooper, dominated with a 46.33 to win by 1.30 seconds over Jovan Ferguson of Miami Carol City. Again, Cooper was disqualified after not finishing in first and erupting at officials at the finish.
Collier also got his Raiders 4 x 400 team a fourth place with teammates Sean Dixon and Diego Soto returning for their senior year.
"With the returners we have, I want the team to go for a team state title," said Collier. "We have speed at Orange Park."
Collier, who was third in the 400 at the New Balance
Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina in 47.24, also excelled on the football field for Orange Park with 800 rush yards in eight games played with 10 touchdowns.