From Lawrence High to the NFL

Running back Chris Collier signs with the Ravens


Lawrence High School graduate Chris Collier has gained local celebrity status, Lock Haven University football coach Dan Mulrooney said.

On April 27, Collier, who was a running back at Lock Haven, signed an undrafted-free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens, and took off for rookie camp shortly thereafter.

“It was surreal, honestly,” Collier said of signing with the team, before the NFL draft concluded. “I was surrounded by family and close friends, and in that moment, it honestly didn’t hit me, but I was still in shock. I was like, wow, like, my dream is on the way to being fulfilled. Obviously I have a lot of work to do, but in that moment I was just genuinely excited.”

Player who are not signed during the regular NFL draft, which this year took place April 25-27, can be signed separately to UDFA contracts.

“Being on a NFL team is a blessing regardless of how you get there,” Collier said. “You have a lot of work to do, your spot is never guaranteed, so you have to work day in and day out regardless.”

Collier’s talent as a running back was recognized at an NFL Pro Day at Temple University, in Philadelphia, on March 25, one of the league’s prospect-evaluation opportunities. Just a week earlier, Mulrooney had secured Collier a spot to show off his skills.

“He killed it, obviously,” Mulrooney said.

Joseph Martillotti, a former head football coach at Lawrence High, who worked with Collier throughout his high school career, wasn’t surprised.

“Even out of high school, he was a combine-ready kid,” Martillotti said, meaning Collier was good enough to be a part of the NFL Combine, a scouting opportunity for players hoping to be drafted. “I knew his numbers would always match up with his performance on the field.”

Collier spent last weekend at The Ravens rookie minicamp, which gives newly drafted — or signed — players a chance to become acclimated to NFL play and practices.

“It was a bit nerve-racking at first,” he recounted. “But once I got into the flow of things, it was really just football, playing to my instincts and just natural talent at the end of the day.”

Collier started playing football when he was 6. He graduated from LHS in 2018, and went on to play for a season and a half at Nassau Community College, having lost college scholarship offers from, among other schools, Rutgers and Duke after sustaining a season-ending knee injury his junior year in high school.

“It was really shaping up to be a great recruiting process,” Collier said, “but once I suffered that injury, that went out the door, and I started from square one.”

Martillotti had faith in Collier’s abilities even after the setback. “Especially after the injury, he was always in the weight room,” his former coach said. “He never missed a workout.”

From NCC, Collier transferred to Wagner College, on Staten Island, where he continued playing football, with some time off due to serious concussions, and completed a degree in psychology. His last stop before the NFL was Lock Haven, where he earned a master’s in sports management.

“You want to get that degree first,” Collier said. “That’s the most important thing, because you got to realize the NFL is the 1 percent. Not everybody makes it.”

Next up for the Ravens’ new signee are team activities that will include seminars, lectures and other bonding activities in late May and early June. NFL training camps get under way at the end of July.