Belpre back Collins signs to play football at West Liberty

Times file photo Belpre’s Jesse Collins, right, carries the ball during a high school football game against Waterford last season. Collins signed Wednesday to play football at West Liberty.

BELPRE– Jesse Collins capped off his senior year officially signing for West Liberty University out of the Mountain East Conference during football’s national signing day Wednesday.

Getting offers early in the season from Ohio Dominican, Lake Erie, Walsh, Charleston and Urbana, it wasn’t until Collins got an offer from West Liberty, a school that he’d wanted an offer from, that his dream came true.

West Liberty was one of the last schools that started recruiting Collins. He was already interested in them due to the university’s exercise physiology program.

A new athletic complex, The Belmont Saving Bank Indoor Practice Facility that will be done by next fall, a visit to the campus that included a redone weight room and the coaching staff made the choice to sign an easy one for Collins.

“They got new helmets, new uniforms. It’s really nice. The coaches’ honesty about everything that they do and did and have done was honest. We’ve talked for multiple hours,” Collins said. “They invested into me before they knew I would commit to them.”

With how he was treated by long-time defensive and recruiting coordinator Jeff Monteroso, he knew that he would be in good hands at West Liberty.

“Coach Monteroso would talk to me all the time, ask me what I thought and he made sure I felt like I wanted to be there. I see that’s what they do that with all of their players,” Collins said.

Due to his frame and athletic ability, Collins has been told by Monteroso that they are going to try to utilize Collins at running back or tight end.

Collins has had interest in the field for the past four to five years, due to his aunt being a nurse practitioner. To help him on his journey, Collins is currently taking exercise science in sports medicine at the Washington County Career Center.

One of the reasons why he picked West Liberty was due to his cousin graduating from the physician’s assistants program. Collins plans on getting a four-year degree and could attend graduate school to be a physical therapist.

“I like the occupation and the field that I can be in with that,” Collins said, “It’s a steady job with a good outcome.”

Only having five seniors, it was a growing process for the young Belpre team finishing 6-4, improving from 4-6 in 2017. If a play or two went Belpre’s way, they could have been 8-2 with a touchdown loss to Valley (28-21) and Waterford (24-17).

“It was definitely a growth year, new coaching staff and new offense, new process, new way of doing practice, everything was different,” Collins said. “We saw a huge investment. The team was more invested, there was no selfish, no I, it was what are we going to do.”

Collins rushed for 1,689 yards on 207 attempts, 8.2 yards per carry and 21 rushing touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, he came up with four sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

His impressive season led him being named third team Division VI All-Ohio and first team All-Southeast District running back.

“It was a great year. I think Coach (Mike) DeVol has the team and program building well and they are going to have huge growth next year,” Collins said.

West Liberty University campus is in West Liberty, W.Va., near Wheeling, with 2,443 in attendance, outnumbering the residents (1,463). The goal of the program according to West Liberty “is to reflect those of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) as well as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) while providing students with a solid foundation in the factual and conceptual mastery of human movement study.”

“I want to thanks my family, friends, God and my coaches,” said Collins, thanking those who helped him reach West Liberty.