Westwood’s Collier rarity in high school sports

Westwood sophomore Manny Collier is a rarity in high school sports these days.

Collier is a standout wide receiver on the Warriors’ football team, but he also excels at both baseball and basketball.

“We have very few three-sport athletes any more,” Westwood football head coach Kyle Ide said. “He’s a sophomore who started on varsity in football, played JV basketball, and then played varsity baseball. We haven’t had that in a long time.”

Collier moved to Arizona from the West side of Chicago when he was in fourth grade. When he arrived in the desert, baseball was the only sport he played, but it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with football and basketball.

“Baseball is the same as football to me because I can work on my awareness,” Collier said. “When I run quick routes I have to know when the ball is coming at certain times. I have to get my head around just in time to see the ball and receive it to make yards and score touchdowns for the team.”

Collier constantly watches his position in all three sports at the college and professional levels to improve his game in each.

“I play point guard for basketball, so when I watch basketball, I watch my position and I know what I need to do to be a better (player),” Collier said. “For baseball, I watch center field so when they hit the ball, I know what I should do and when the ball hits the opposite way who I should back up. For football, I watch how I should out beat my receivers and challenge them.”

At the end of 2016, the Warriors lost starting quarterback Carter Layton to injury. Ide went to Collier to step in and take over. 

“He’s a special athlete,” Ide said. “He’s very explosive. He’s smart (and) a sharp kid. He stepped up and played quarterback (and) became a leader.”

Collier’s competitive drive is what both Ide and Westwood baseball head coach JR Langston see as a benefit to playing multiple sports.

“He loves to compete,” Langston said. “Manny’s a great kid, he loves to play and he likes to be in a season. He likes the competitive nature of being in the sport.”

Collier’s confidence is another aspect of his athletic ability that has impressed his coaches.

“He’s not afraid to fail,” Langston said. “He just goes out and he does his thing.”

Focusing on one sport is not something Collier is interested in at this point in time. While he feels football is where the opportunities lie for the next level, he’s not yet ready to give up on baseball and basketball.

“If I play a sport, I’m playing it for a reason, because I love the game and I know the game really well,” Collier said. “If they give me the option to play all three, then I will. Right now, I’m just sticking to my sports and (seeing) how it goes.”