“The Ambassador” helps trio of European football players find a home at WVU

(Citynet Statewide Sportsline interview with Brandon Collier)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Since Neal Brown and his coaching staff have arrived at WVU, one European player has signed with the Mountaineers and two more have verbally committed to the Class of 2021.

So exactly how do European players that don’t have a traditional high school football system catch the eye of top level college coaches? That’s where “The Ambassador” Brandon Collier comes in.

After wrapping up his playing career, which included stints in the NFL and the Canadian Football League, Collier moved to Germany in 2013. Four years later, Collier formed PPI Recruits. He has helped over seventy players earn Division I scholarships.

“So many young, talented players were asking me if I could help them,” Collier said. “That’s kind of how it started and it has taken off from there. We really got started in late-2017. So it has been about three years since PPI started and it has grown a lot from there.”

Collier travels throughout Europe, and Australia as well, in search of athletes that have the potential to become Division I football players. The best of the best are offered an opportunity to come to America to showcase their skills in front of college coaches.

“We run combines through all the major countries in Europe and we find the top kids from these combines. Then we get these kids to one big showcase to invite these kids to what we call the ‘DreamChasers Tour’. We bring these kids to America and we only select the cream of the crop. So if you come on the tour, we expect you to be a Division I kid. The selection process is very rigorous.”

Many of Collier’s players started out specializing in other sports. But their raw athletic ability will stand out on film.

“Football is one of those sports where you don’t have to play it all your life to become a potential professional athlete or a high-level Division I athlete. The sport has grown so much worldwide. Seeing these athletes that came from handball, or they got too big for soccer and they had great footwork so they became great offensive linemen or defensive linemen. The character of these kids is very high.

“The talent is out here. Has it gotten better? I believe more and more kids are seeing the potential to go to college. So it has grown with more players. The talent has already been here.”

On Monday, Finland native Edward Vesterinen verbally committed to WVU. Collier says Vesterinen should make a quick transition to the college game.

“They are getting our most ‘ready now’ kid. A lot of the kids here are a little raw because they haven’t played much football. But he has been playing football for five or six years. And he has had great coaching. I don’t think fans should look at him as a developmental project.

“If you know Finnish people, those guys are really tough. They don’t smile much. He is a great kid but if you guys see him and he doesn’t smile that much, it is not because he is being mean. That’s just who he is and what their culture is.”

The first member of West Virginia’s next recruiting class was Sweden tight end Viktor Wikstrom.

“He is a kid that runs a 4.5 at 250 pounds. He is 6-foot-4 and they are getting a playmaking tight end who can stretch the field.”

Cornerback Jairo Faverus is a native of The Netherlands and signed with WVU in the Class of 2020.

“He is another ‘ready now’ kid that is going to come in and compete in the first year. They are also getting three great character kids who will do well off the field and bring a lot of energy to the team.”

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