Though he never played football in Harrison County Will Thomas Collins lived in Harrison County during his middle school years.
“So what?” you might ask since many of the readers of the Democrat may not be familiar with Will Thomas.
Will Thomas Collins and his family lived in Harrison County from 1999 to 2010 before his father, Jon Collins, became an assistant football coach at Breathitt County High School.
Betty Collins was Betty Geoghegan before marriage, the daughter of Carlos and Bonna Geoghegan who were natives of Harrison County owning a farm on Salem Pike.
After the war, the Geoghegans moved to the Dayton, Ohio, area where they raised Betty (known locally as Chimp) and her sisters Bertha Ross and Joyce Duszynski until they returned later in life to the Salem Pike farm.
The Geoghegans actually moved to that area like many other families because of the post-war economy leaving Harrison County behind with reluctance.
The Collins family moved to Harrison County in 1999 when following her father’s death Betty’s mother needed help caring for herself.
The football history of Will Thomas Collins is like an American dream come true with several strange twists beginning with his time in Harrison County.
Will Thomas loves football and when he was old enough to play middle school ball his parents were informed of the Harrison County Board of Education policy that non-Harrison County School students, including home schooled as Will Thomas was or parochial school students, could not be involved in extra curricular activities in Harrison County.
So what was to be a promising football career hit a stumbling block right off the bat with this ruling.
Knowing his son’s love for the game, Jon Collins stopped one afternoon at Lexington Christian Academy and asked if the Academy allowed home schooled youth to play middle school football.
They did and he did and the dream was not crushed but flourished.
When it came time for high school, the Collinses decided to send Will Thomas to traditional school and since Lexington Christian was where he played middle school the choice was made for him to attend LCA and become an Eagle.
He was the leading tackler for the 2009 State Champion Eagles although he was only a sophomore and missed four games due to an injury.
After the 2009 season, the Collins family moved to Jackson, Ky., in Breathitt County where Jon Collins was an assistant football coach.
Will Thomas fit right in with the Bobcats and Coach Mike Holcomb as he was third team all state in his senior year playing both running back and linebacker.
He received a scholarship to play at the University of Pikeville and played there as a running back last season.
Following the first semester, Collins began to question whether Pikeville was really where he wanted to be though he liked his coaches and teammates.
He began the recruiting process over again and had sincere interest from Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois.
He was narrowing his choices when the Breathitt High coach Holcomb set up a work out with the University of Kentucky coaching staff for some of his players and asked if Collins could work out as well.
He so impressed the Wildcat coaches that talks began about coming to Lexington for walk on tryouts.
Will Thomas asked a lot of questions of the University of Kentucky coaches about playing time, what position they had in mind for him, and just what a walk on could expect.
He was not convinced that walking on was exactly what he wanted and was on the verge of signing with Murray State.
“Jon and I prayed about what was right for Will Thomas,” said Betty Collins. “We weren’t convinced that Murray State was the right place and left it in God’s hands as what would be the direction that Will Thomas should go.”
It was like an answer to their prayers when Kentucky contacted Will Thomas and said that he did not have to try out but that they had a preferred walk on spot for him.
He decided to walk on and red shirt for the 2013 season while he prepares for life as a Wildcat.
A 215 pounder who runs a 4.46 40-yard dash, Collins is figured to be an outside linebacker for the Wildcats.
Though his Aunt Bertha Ross calls Will Thomas “the athletic star of the family” the Collins family’s other three sons are heavily involved in sports as well.
The second son, Jon Keith, is a high school rodeo star as well as a linebacker and fullback for the Bobcats while son number three, James Fletcher, is a defensive back and running back at Breathitt County. Sixth grader Charles Andrew is the team manager while also playing middle school football.
The last Harrison County football player to play for Kentucky was M.D. McKinley in 2002.
Will Thomas Collins, while not attending public school in Harrison County, lived here during his formative years so we are claiming him as another Harrison County football player at UK.
After all he has two aunts who live here and a family that comes back to the Salem Pike farm as often as they can.
That should count for something.