Collins played linebacker and guard at Brother Rice High School (Bloomfield Township, Michigan). He was a Football Writers Association first-team All-American (second-team Associated Press) at Notre Dame in 1974. He was the leading tackler on Notre Dame's national championship team in 1973, garnering 18 solo stops in a showdown victory over the defending national champions, Southern California, and 16 in the Sugar Bowl victory vs. Alabama that secured the national title for Notre Dame. Collins was taken in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the 49ers, the 35th overall selection. He later played for the Seattle Seahawks in 1976 and for the Buffalo Bills in 1977.