Meet Florida's Jayce Collins, believed to be the world's largest lacrosse goalie

Meet Florida's Jayce Collins, believed to be the world's largest lacrosse goalie

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Meet Florida's Jayce Collins, believed to be the world's largest lacrosse goalie

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Jayce Collins (Photo: Silvio Leal)

Jayce Collins (Photo: Silvio Leal)

PLANTATION, Fla. — Jayce Collins just might be the biggest player anywhere in lacrosse.

At 6-2 and 320 pounds, the 14-year-old Collins is a freshman goalie starting on varsity for South Plantation. And he is not without skill.

“He’s got good reactions and good hands – he can play,” said Terry Crowley, who coaches a rival team, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), which finished second at state in 2015.

“With a kid that big, especially in South Florida, it’s just going to be a question of whether he is ultimately going to choose football. But if he doesn’t, he’s very athletic and has tons of possibilities in lacrosse.”

Collins’ lacrosse career started at age 5, and it happened by accident.

After trying flag football, he was upset because the coaches wanted everyone to play different positions.

“I told the coach, ‘Teach him to snap the football. He’s going to be an offensive lineman one day,’” said Collins’ father, Mike. “Instead, they rotated positions, and when it was his turn to play quarterback, we got beat soundly. The other kids were too quick.”

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Jayce Collins left the field crying. Mike, trying to cheer up his son, saw a banner elsewhere on the park grounds that advertised an “open house” for lacrosse.

Neither father nor son knew anything about lacrosse at the time, but they learned quickly.

“In lacrosse, there were no weight limits,” Mike Collins said. “And as with most kids who try the sport, Jayce fell in love with it right away.

“The lacrosse community is awesome. They were very welcoming to my chubby 5-year-old son.”

Once he was allowed to play tackle football, Jayce Collins tried that, too, and he became the starting center for the South Plantation junior varsity last fall. He plans on playing varsity football next season and has yet to decide what sport to attempt to pursue in college.

“That’s one of the hardest decisions I’m going to have to make,” Collins said. “I like football because it’s more physical. I can most likely get somewhere with my size in football.

“But I like lacrosse because I’m the last line of defense. And, with rec leagues and travel ball, I have put like 15 seasons into lacrosse.”

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Mike Collins, who has taught himself lacrosse and now is in his fourth year as the South Plantation coach, said he sees his son practicing lacrosse much more than football.

If Collins does stick with lacrosse, it could be epic. The lacrosse world – at least when it comes to the pro, college and high school officials contacted for this story – has never seen anything quite like Collins.

One name that is mentioned when it comes to large goalies is Scott Rodgers, a 6-4, 265-pounder who led Notre Dame to the 2010 NCAA championship game. The Long Island native also led the Toronto Nationals to the 2011 Major League Lacrosse finals and now plays for the Ohio Machine.

Bear Davis, who coaches the Ohio Machine, said Rodgers is easily the biggest goalie in MLL.

“Most guys Scott’s size usually play football,” Davis said. “But 320 pounds (like Collins)? That’s not something you see every day. That’s a big boy. That’s intriguing.”

Collins’ father said his son – much like Rodgers previously – is breaking with the tradition of the position.

“Normally in the world of lacrosse, you want a goalie who is as spry as a spider monkey,” Mike Collins said. “Jayce is big, but he has excellent hand-eye coordination and a great knowledge of the game.”

Jayce is also pretty tough. Goalies wear a chest protector and a helmet, but their arms and legs are exposed. Jayce said he once had his right shin swell up to twice its normal size after taking a shot off the leg.

“The ball definitely hurts,” Jayce said.

Even so, Jayce doesn’t shy away.

“He has zero flinch,” his father said. “Usually, your brain would say, ‘Hey, this ball is coming at me at 70 mph. I need to get out of the way.’

“But not Jayce – he doesn’t close his eyes. He doesn’t turn away.”

Of course, he has only just begun his first varsity season.

Crowley, the Aquinas coach, said he is curious to see how Collins performs when the competition stiffens.

“He hasn’t been battle tested,” Crowley said. “In the next two months, he will go from rookie to seeing a lot of rubber. I look forward to see where he goes.”

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