Former Battery Creek High School standout Collin Drafts was recently named to the inaugural Big South Conference All-Decade football team.
As Charleston Southern quarterback from 2003-2006, Drafts set conference records for pass attempts, completions, passing yardage, passing touchdowns, completion percentage, total offensive yards and total offensive touchdowns. He was twice named first-team all-conference, was the 2005 Big South Offensive Player of the Year and led Charleston Southern to its first conference championship that year.
Drafts was joined on the all-decade team by former Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen. Other notable names include former Liberty running back and current Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings, former Coastal Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert -- now with the Carolina Panthers -- and Minnesota Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson, who also played for the Chanticleers.
Big South Conference administrators voted to decide the inaugural team, which includes football seasons from 2002-2009. The conference did not play football until 2002. Fan vote made up 20 percent of the final tally.
Drafts is now the offensive coordinator at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla., and wrapping up an arena football career. The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet caught up with Drafts to talk about his recent honor, his coaching career and whether he might return to the Lowcountry.
Question: When did you get an indication this list was coming out?
Answer: I found out maybe two weeks ago, and I think the nominees had been put out for a little while before I knew about it. They had some type of fan voting poll on BigSouthSports.com. I think my mom came across something and told me I had been nominated.
Q: It seems like some pretty nice company there, with Mike Tolbert and Tyler Thigpen and some of those NFL names --
A: Definitely a good group. The four years I played Big South, you had a handful of NFL guys. You had the Coastal Carolina guys, with Thigpen and Jerome Simpson and Tolbert. And the running back at Liberty (Jennings). There is definitely some talent that has come out of the Big South the first decade they had football in the conference.
Q: Is it an indication that you don't necessarily have to go big-time Division I to make it big?
A: I think we were probably all in the same boat. I had just a handful of I-AA offers first coming out of Battery Creek, Charleston Southern obviously one of them. I had people ask me all the time would I have done it differently, maybe tried to walk-on to South Carolina or gone somewhere different. But I definitely, without a doubt, don't have any regrets. That's exactly where I should have been. It worked out for the best, for sure.
Q: Where do you stand with arena football now?
A: You know, I played for seven years. Last year (this past summer) really was kind of unexpected. I teach full-time, and I coach high school football in Orlando. I've been in Orlando the past three years. I pretty much, in my mind, had hung it up. Because arena football starts in February and goes all the way through August. I teach full-time and we don't get out for summertime until June. I pretty much was retired. After school let out in June, the (Arena Football League's Orlando) Predators called me and asked if I would come out and be a backup quarterback for them, because a backup quarterback they had went down. I thought about it for a couple days and thought, 'Why not?' It was almost like one last final farewell, I guess. Almost like a summer job, too. It was pretty neat. We practiced in the mornings. I got to run the scout team. Didn't see much game action, but it was fun to be back out there one last time. I don't really plan on playing again. If that situation came up again, I would do it again. But my top priority really is coaching high school football now. It can't really conflict.
Q: I saw you launched a quarterback coaching service. How is that working out?
A: It's called quarterbacknation.com. It's something I started doing when I was still playing arena football full-time. In 2010, when I was in Dallas, me and a buddy of mine started putting up ads on Craigslist for private quarterback training. It's grown the past four years into the website I have now. There's really a huge market for that kind of stuff in Orlando. Every sport, you hear all these kids talk about how they have their own private coach. With football being as big as it is in Orlando, it's something I do on my own time. I group-train quarterbacks and hold camps during the offseason. It kind of fits in well with what I have going on already. My longterm goal is to be a head football coach at the high school level. I think sometime in the future that will happen. With the private training, that's something I can always do on top of coaching.
Q: Do you like the Florida? Have you had thoughts of going anywhere else or coming back to the Beaufort area?
A: I think at some point I would like to. I thought about getting back to the Charleston area again. The first high school coaching job I had, I coached JV quarterbacks at Summerville while I did my student teaching at Charleston Southern. The next year I was the varsity tight ends coach at Fort Dorchester and really enjoyed my time there. The next year was when I moved down to Orlando. I could see myself at some point getting back to the Lowcountry, for sure. I'll just have to see how it works out. I feel like I'm in a really good situation, coaching-wise, at the school I'm at. I'm happy with what I have right now, for sure.