Occidental College will fly the Oxy flag at half-mast on Monday, August 8, in memory of Andy Collins ’07, the former Occidental quarterback and the SCIAC’s only three-time Offensive Player of the Year, who died of an apparent heart attack August 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 27.
The cause is pending an investigation, although Collins reportedly had been working out on a treadmill just before his death.
"In my opinion, Andy was the most dominant player in my 30 years of coaching football in our conference," football coach Dale Widolff wrote in an announcement to the Oxy community. "Much more importantly, he was a man who lived a life of great character and integrity in all that he did. His impact upon the members of the Occidental football family was profound. Those players and coaches fortunate enough to have toiled with him during his time at Occidental have been touched by a great young man."
A native of Zillah, Wash., Collins walked away from a football scholarship at the University of Oregon, matriculated at Eastern Washington for one semester, returned home, took a few general education courses at Yakima Valley Community College, and found out about Occidental while sifting through a box of old recruiting letters.
Collins began his Oxy career as a back-up, inserted into the Tigers’ 31-28 loss to Chapman in the 2004 season opener. With Collins as quarterback, the Tigers went a perfect 26-0 in three seasons of SCIAC play during the 2004, 2005, and 2006 seasons and advanced to the postseason three times, including a Regional finals appearance in 2004. In his last game playing for Oxy -- a first-round playoff appearance in frigid Spokane, Wash., against No. 8 Whitworth -- the No. 10-ranked Tigers took it down to the wire before losing in the final 24 seconds, 27-24.
In addition to his SCIAC honors, Collins was chosen as the top quarterback in NCAA Division III by the American Football Coaches Association in 2006. Playing for the AFCA’s Division III all-star team, he earned MVP honors for team USA, leading the squad to a 28-7 win over Mexico in the 2006 Aztec Bowl.
"When times were toughest, Andy brought his game to another level," Widolff told Occidental magazine in 2006. "His best performances came in the playoffs and against our toughest conference rivals. In all my years of coaching, I’ve never seen a student-athlete have as big an impact on a team’s success. Never."
Collins spent four years playing professional football, most notably with the Los Angeles Avengers and the Colorado Rush of the Arena Football League.
Collins is survived by wife Brooke Olzendam and his family. A rosary service will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, August 7, at Resurrection Parish in Zillah, Wash. His memorial service will be held Monday, August 8, at 10 a.m. at Resurrection Parish.