Maryland Football Countdown: No. 82, Gary Collins


Wide receiver/punter Gary Collins was a fixture at Maryland in the 1960s and ended up being a two-time Pro Bowler in the NFL. (Mandatory Credit: University of Maryland Archives)

With just 34 days until the Maryland opens the season on Sept. 5, TerrapinStationMD continues our series based on past Terrapins with Gary Collins. We’ll continue to look at the most talented and/or popular player to wear the number and analyze their time in College Park. If you think of a player that had a big impact and is also associated with that number, leave a comment below.

When you think about the great wide receivers at Maryland, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jermaine Lewis, and Torrey Smith probably come to mind.

However, former Terp Gary Collins was also one of the more accomplished wideouts to ever come through College Park. From 1959-1961, the Pennsylvania native called Maryland home and put up some remarkable numbers.

During his three-year Maryland career, Collins had 74 receptions for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best season came in 1961 when he was a consensus All-American and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting (Syracuse’s Ernie Davis won the award).

The 1961 campaign was the best of Collins’ Maryland career as he caught 30 passes for 428 yards and four touchdowns.

Collins led the ACC in touchdowns with four during the 1959 and 1961 seasons. He was second in the conference in the same category during the 1960 season.

If you watch the above video, Collins was part of the only win against Penn State prior to last season. During the 1961 game between the two teams, quarterback Dick Shiner threw three touchdown passes (one to Collins) in a 21-17 Maryland victory.

Regardless of position, Collins was one of the most talented players to ever come through College Park. The Williamstown, Pa. native was a very talented end that simply possessed all the necessary skills that a pass catcher needs to have.

More from Maryland Football

Collins had a knack for catching the ball in traffic and making the big catch that could win a game for the Terps. Something that people may not know is that he was a very gifted punter.

In this day and age, not every wideout prides themselves on their blocking ability, but that was one of the strongest parts of Collins’ game as an end.

After his three years at Maryland, Collins was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, just behind the likes of tailback Ernie Davis (Syracuse), quarterback Roman Gabriel (N.C. State), and defensive tackle Merlin Olsen (Utah State). Ironically, Davis won the Heisman Trophy in 1961, but Gabriel and Olsen finished behind Collins in the voting.

Upon his first season in the NFL, the Browns appointed Collins as their starting punter and as a reserve wideout. In his second season with the team, he led Cleveland with 43 receptions and 674 yards with 13 touchdowns (his highest career total).

Collins ended his NFL career with 331 receptions for 5,299 yards and 70 touchdowns. He is the second on the Browns all-time list in receiving behind Ozzie Newsome. His 70 touchdowns are first in franchise history with the next closest being Ray Renfro, who had 50 scores.

Collins was one of the most productive Terps at the wide receiver position. He set numerous records with Maryland and the ACC in his day.

It was a different age of football, but Collins remains one of the greatest players to ever put on a Maryland uniform.

More from Terrapin Station