In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a jumbo athlete who has the potential to develop into a dynamic EDGE rusher down the line: Rancho Santa Margarita (CA) Santa Margarita Catholic 4-star ATH Collins Acheampong.
Miami has had recent success at developing EDGE rushers, and in an effort to continue that trend, all while adding a blue-chip prospect to the group, the Canes targeted Rancho Santa Margarita (CA) Santa Margarita Catholic ATH Collins Acheampong for the 2023 recruiting class.
A 6’7” 254lb jumbo athlete, Acheampong has all the physical talent in the world. A standout basketball player, Acheampong lives up to his listed measurables. And his experience on the hardwood shows his versatile athleticism. He burst onto the scene as a HS freshman playing at a school with a since-disbanded football program (Coronavirus caused the cut) with a big year. 51 tackles, 15 TFL, 9 sacks and a fumble recovery. Yeah, that’ll work for a debut in football, if you ask me.
After that amazing freshman season, and due to Fairmont Prep dropping football, Acheampong transitioned to full time hooper after his freshman year. Averaging 9 points and 8 rebounds and a block per game, Acheampong was a solid player on the hardwood. Good yeah, but not great. Truth be told, a 6’7” power forward isn’t really moving the needle in basketball absent insane athleticism and skill a la Zion Williamson. Even though he’s not a Zion level hooper, Acheampong’s height, length, and athleticism piqued the fancy of college football coaches, and the talented athlete received a deluge of scholarship offers starting in January 2022 upon his transfer to Santa Margarita Catholic. The spring evaluation period was a big one for Acheampong, who was making his return to the gridiron for the first time since his freshman year, and showed him a future in football was definitely his best path forward.
As winter turned to spring, Acheampong’s recruitment really picked up. Official Visits to named finalists UCLA, LSU, Michigan, Miami, and Washington started to clarify the picture. With all 5 officials taken, Acheampong had a decision to make. And, despite some early traction and predictions that he would be taking his talents to Coral Gables, Acheampong announced a commitment to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines early in July.
Even with that commitment made, the story of this recruitment was not over. As routinely happens, teams kept in contact with the big and talented athlete, and that ended up paying big dividends down the line.
Early on in Santa Margarita Catholic’s 2022 season, Acheampong sustained a season-ending knee injury. He underwent successful surgery to repair the injury, and had a long road of rehab in front of him to return to action. And while he was on that path of recovery, Acheampong got to thinking about his future collegiate destination, and his fit overall at that school.
Being unable to play sports, Acheampong started thinking about what life would be like for him at his chosen school if he were unable to play. And, as he made these evaluations, he came to a clear conclusion: he saw a much better overall fit for himself in Coral Gables than he did in Ann Arbor. And to make that thought become a reality, Acheampong flipped his commitment from Michigan to Miami in late November.
On the 247sports composite, Acheampong is a 4-star prospect, the #11 ATH nationally, #12 in the State of California, and #167 player overall in this class.
Acheampong committed to Miami after flipping his commitment from Michigan, with LSU being the third original finalist from strong list of 17 offers from around the country.
As A Player
Some have compared the Ghanaian native Acheampong to former Canes EDGE Gregory Rousseau, but that’s only partially true. They have similar height and length with Rousseau 6’6” and Acheampong 6’7” with a near 7ft wingspan and massive 10” hands, but Acheampong is much more physically built to play on the DL. If you’ll remember, Rousseau was a 200lb receiver/safety in HS who only rushed the passer on occasion during his prep career. Acheampong was a standout DE as a HS freshman and played there as a senior in his return to football. So, there are some comparisons to Rousseau, but not as many as others have made it out to be.
Having been away from the game of football and focused on basketball mainly, Acheampong will need to lean into the physicality of football fully. But with his frame, and the potential to get up around the 280lb range down the line, he’ll have the physique and strength to do so. That’ll come after some development time, but it should come easily.
Acheampong’s main asset is his combination of length and athleticism. On this point, the comparisons to Rousseau are dead on. Acheampong may not be exactly as explosive as Rousseau, but if he’s even in the same ballpark, Miami could have something big here.
This take isn’t about performance (though he was incredibly dynamic as a HS freshman back in 2019), it’s about Acheampong’s potential to develop down the line. This means his physique will need development, his technique will need refinement, and his football IQ will have to develop as well. But, given the appropriate amount of time and focused coaching, there is no reason to think this won’t happen.
The last thing to note, of course, is Acheampong’s season-ending injury this season. A right knee injury putting things together from his social media, the way Acheampong is able to bounce back and retain his previous athletic profile is key to his future on the field for Miami. Luckily with the developments of sports medicine, knee injuries are not as terminal to careers as they once were. So there’s a path back to the field, and the kind of athleticism that made Acheampong a fringe basketball prospect and elite football recruit.
- Physical development
- Good to great athleticism
- Injury history
- Lack of experience in football
If you’re looking for Collins Acheampong to be the team leader in sacks in 2023, you’re looking at things entirely the wrong way. Like Rousseau before him Miami needs to and will take a long-term look at Acheampong’s development. This is the correct path, trust me.
When you combine the fact that he’s still rehabbing his knee injury from September to the fact that he’s only played 3 HSFB games in the past 3 years, being intentional and measured in both Acheampong’s rehab and development makes all the sense in the world.
While he could see rotation snaps at some point early in his career, the real test of Acheampong’s development will be around 3 years down the line. That’s redshirt sophomore status, and by then, his body and performance should be to the level where Acheampong is able to make an impact on the field. Anything before that is found money for Miami. And when he puts things together, whenever that may be, Acheampong’s ceiling is All-ACC, for sure.
But, there is no certainty that he puts things together, and his inexperience in football means the variance for his career performance is enormous. The floor is very low. But the ceiling is the roof (shoutout to Michael Jordan). Acheampong could just as easily be a 3 year washout from the program as he could be the next Miami EDGE development success story turned into a 1st round NFL draft pick. We’ll just have to wait and see which way things trend for this intriguing prospect.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.