Former LSU running back Collins could face additional jail time

A Louisiana judge ordered former LSU, McNeese State University and Miami Dolphins running back Cecil “The Diesel” Collins held without bond Monday until a July 1 hearing, when the judge could revoke Collins’ probation in a 1998 Baton Rouge case and send him back to prison for up to five years.

Collins, 36, who was released from a Florida prison May 1 after serving more than 13 years of a 15-year prison term for a burglary conviction, appeared before state District Judge Mike Caldwell in shackles and wearing a bright orange East Baton Rouge Parish Prison jumpsuit.

The burglary occurred in Miami in December 1999. Collins was found guilty of burglary after sneaking into his neighbors’ apartment. He was on probation at the time.

Collins had pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge before Caldwell in April 1999 to two felony charges of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and two misdemeanor charges of simple battery. The charges stemmed from two separate incidents in June and July 1998 when Collins forced his way into apartments of women who lived in the same Nicholson Drive complex as he did. He was accused of fondling the women.

Caldwell suspended a five-year prison sentence and put Collins on probation for four years in April 1999. In November of that year, about a month before his Florida arrest, Caldwell had praised Collins in a court hearing for handling himself well on probation.

Now, East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors want Caldwell to revoke Collins’ probation and make him serve the suspended prison time.

Caldwell rescheduled Collins’ probation revocation hearing for July 1 after Collins’ attorney, Rodney Baum, asked for more time to research possible mitigation evidence and legal issues.

Baum also requested that Collins be released on bond until then, but prosecutor Sue Bernie objected.

Baum noted that Collins, who has family in Leesville and a wife in the Miami area, has not missed any previous court dates. Caldwell denied Baum’s request, citing Collins’ prior run-ins with the law.

After court, Baum said Collins did “some good things” and was “actively engaged in positive things” while incarcerated in Florida. He declined to elaborate on those statements.

“I see no benefit in sending him back to jail,” Baum added.

Collins earned high praise as a running back early in his football career, winning Louisiana’s inaugural Mr. Football award in 1995 as a Leesville High School senior.

He was declared academically ineligible for his freshman season at LSU in 1996 and was suspended for the first game of his sophomore season in 1997.

Collins garnered national acclaim for a three-game stretch in 1997 in which he rushed for 596 yards and three touchdowns.

But Collins’ season ended when he broke his fibula Oct. 4 at Vanderbilt. Collins returned for spring practice but again was injured in the spring game.

After his arrest in Baton Rouge in the summer of 1998, Collins was tossed off the LSU football team. He later signed with McNeese, but got booted from that team after flunking a surprise drug test in the fall of 1998.

Collins tested positive for marijuana, a violation of the terms for his bond, and served 28 days in jail before being released to a half-way house.

Despite his legal issues at LSU and McNeese, the Miami Dolphins selected Collins in the fifth round of the 1999 National Football League Draft. He rushed for 414 yards and two touchdowns in eight games before breaking his left leg in November. The Dolphins waived Collins in February 2000.