By Steve Williams

In June it looked like Collin Ironside would be playing college football as a preferred walk-on and scout team quarterback at Troy University in Alabama.

The Bearden High scholar-athlete was waiting to hear back from the Trojans about how much academic scholarship funding he would be awarded and was hopeful that it would cover close to all of his school costs.

But Virginia Military Institute reached out to Ironside a month later.

“They said they might have a quarterback transfer and asked if I would be interested in going (to VMI), and I responded with, ‘Absolutely, as long as it would be a full ride.’ A few days later, the quarterback transferred, and I was offered a full ride the following morning.”

Ironside committed to the Keydets on July 6 and signed a full athletic scholarship on July 8.

“I thanked Troy for the opportunity and they understood my situation,” added Collin.

“God sure did answer my prayers! I am very blessed, and I could not be where I am without Him!”

VMI is a public military college in Lexington, Va. The Keydets compete in the Southern Conference of the NCAA Division I FCS. The Citadel is its main rival.

Institute regulations require that all cadets complete four years of ROTC training in one of the three programs: Army, Navy/Marine, or Air Force. The VMI system is designed to prepare qualified cadets for a military commission upon graduation, but there is no requirement that cadets seek a commission.

“I like the brotherhood and bonds you build with your brother rats at VMI,” said Ironside. “That is the thing I’m most looking forward to.”

Legend has it that when Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) students and VMI cadets drilled together in the 1830s, the students called the cadets “Rats” perhaps because of their gray uniforms.

“I also really like the coaching staff and the (pro style) offense at VMI,” said Collin. “It will be really fun to play in.

“VMI runs the spread offense and throws the ball 40 to 50 times a game. They also want me to run the ball some here.”

The 6-1, 175-pound Ironside was a four-year starter and two-time captain at Bearden and set a career record with 595 completions, which ranks No. 10 on the TSSAA’s all-time list. He was All-Region 1-6A in 2018 and 2019.

Ironside also finished with career records in passing yards (7,122) and passing touchdowns (61).

In academics, Collin was in the Top 10 percent of his graduating class with a 4.39 GPA and had an ACT score of 31.

“I plan to major in business and economics and get a minor in financial management,” he said.

Ironside currently is at VMI until July 24 for a summer session and will officially report on Aug. 6.