LHU All-American running back Chris Collier debuts at Baltimore Ravens Rookie Camp | News, sports, jobs

Lock Haven University football running back Chris Collier carries the ball during a practice this past season. Collier attended the Baltimore Ravens Rookie Camp in Ownings Mills, Maryland on Saturday. TIM WEIGHT FILE PHOTO

BALTIMORE, Md. – No story was bigger in Lock Haven sports this year than Chris Collier’s. Collier was a bona fide superstar for the Bald Eagles last fall, earning a number of accolades. The Division II All-American was hopeful that his name would be called on draft day, and although his phone remained silent as the draft was finalized, it didn’t take long for his dream to become a reality. Minutes later, Collier received calls from multiple NFL teams wanting to sign him as an undrafted free agent (UDFA).

After weighing his options, Collier signed with the Baltimore Ravens, looking to join a running back room that had lost significant talent this season. After that, it wouldn’t be long before Collier would get a chance to prove himself as Ravens rookie camp kicked off on Friday, May 3, just a week after the draft.

Collier was excited about the opportunity to prove himself in camp and highlight what led to his decision to try to become a Raven.

“They showed the most love,” Collier said. “They were the first offer on the table, and honestly, I love this place. I love what they are doing here. I heard it was a top-notch facility and all of the above, so I thought why not take my chances there? I’m going to use every ounce of God-given ability to give me the best chance to move forward and hopefully make the opening day roster.

Practice started at 11:30 a.m. at the Ravens training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland. Collier was part of a group of nearly 30 undrafted free agents (UDFAs) seeking the draft, as well as the Ravens’ nine rookies they selected in the draft.

Rookie camp is a great opportunity for drafted guys to earn a starting spot, and an even better chance for UDFAs to impress the coaching staff as they try to make the 53-man roster on opening day.

Collier worked extensively with the special teams unit, a likely place where the Lawrence, New York, native may find playing time in year one. And while Collier can be much more than a special teams player, he seemed excited about the opportunity to prove himself on the field in any way he can.

Even if he only plays on special teams, his explosiveness can make him a lethal return man.

Collier was one of three running backs the Ravens fielded at rookie camp, the other two being fifth-round draft pick Marshall, Rasheen Ali and fellow UDFA, Owen Wright of Monmouth University.

It’s unknown what role Collier will play in his first year with the Ravens as he finds himself in the conundrum of a running back in Baltimore. The Ravens signed Pro Bowler Derrick Henry this offseason, but there is a lot of uncertainty behind him. Ali will likely get the first shot at being a RB two, but if his fumbling issues are as bad as they were in college, he’ll find his snaps severely limited. If Ali stumbles early, there’s a chance Collier makes the 53-man roster, as the Ravens are a team known to use four running backs from time to time.

Baltimore also has a recent history of undrafted running backs making an impact. Last season, the Ravens picked up Keaton Mitchell, who developed into a capable defender. Mitchell rushed for 396 yards and two touchdowns and will likely be the Ravens’ second option heading into the season.

Collier wasn’t the only non-Division I athlete in camp, as the Ravens also included DeAngelo Hardy of NCAA Division III North Central College, Jelani Baker of NCAA Division II Limestone and Mike Rigerman of Findlay, another NCAA Division II school, contracted.

“The level of play is important, it probably helps you judge a little more apples to apples. But great players come from every level of college football. It’s really just the way you transition to the NFL that counts.”

Coach Harbaugh added, “In Chris’ case, he was a dominant player at that level (Div. II), and you expect him to be able to play in the NFL. He came here looking like he belonged. He is fast, fast and strong. He just looks good.”

Collier certainly looked unimpressed during his first official workout. His smooth and calm demeanor made it seem like the stage wouldn’t be too bright for him.

“It mentally prepared me in every way,” Collier said when asked how his time at The Haven prepared him for this moment. “All the coaches did their very best. Even before preparing the draft, I was doing board work with them every day. They gave me tips and just tried to sort out my thoughts. Coach Mulrooney, Coach Sulivan, Coach Petite, they all really put everything into me to get me to this point. I am very blessed to have all that.”

Collier will continue to work with Raven’s staff and trainers as he looks ahead to the start of training camp in late July.

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