Kayleigh McEnany tested negative for COVID-19 last Thursday. She tested negative again on Friday. And on Saturday. And also on Sunday.
But she wasn’t negative on Monday.
And that presents a quandary even if you’re not the White House press secretary. What if you get tested because someone close to you tested positive, but your test shows you’re negative … yet three days later you aren’t, and, unlike McEnany, you have no idea you have COVID-19 because you don’t get tested daily?
The recent outbreak among White House staff and other Republican officials can provide some insight on how to make ourselves, and our communities, safer. That’s because, experts told me, sometimes a “negative” test result isn’t just a negative test result. Sometimes it’s just the first stop on the way to testing positive.
Those first few McEnany tests fall into the category of “false negatives,” said Bobbi Pritt, a microbiologist at the Mayo Clinic. She was infected, but the tests couldn’t tell that yet. Nobody knows exactly how common false negatives are, said Steven Woloshin, co-director of the Center for Medicine and Media at The Dartmouth Institute, but they aren’t rare. In one study from China, between 11 and 40 percent of tests1 conducted on 213 hospitalized, COVID-positive patients in the first seven days of illness came back negative. Another paper, this one a review of 34 studies accounting for more than 12,000 patients, suggested a false negative rate between 2 and 58 percent.
There are multiple reasons why a test could produce a false negative. In McEnany’s case, it’s likely because there’s a lag time between when someone gets an infectious dose of the SARS-COV-2 virus and when there is actually enough virus in their body to register on a test. “Say somebody gets exposed today, then half the people will start having positive test results in five days,” said Davey Smith, a translational research virologist at the University of California San Diego. “Eighty percent will have it by [day] 10 and virtually everyone would have it by 14.”
People who know they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 often want to come in right away and get a test, Smith said. But that’s the opposite of what you need to do. In order to test positive, you have to have enough virus in your system for the test to spot its genetic material in your sample. But virus replication takes time. If you’re tested on day four, there’s a greater than 50 percent chance that any negative test result is untrustworthy.
But it gets more complicated than that. Testing too soon is a concern for anyone, but if you’re one of the people who contracts COVID-19 and isn’t having a serious case, there’s also such a thing as testing too late, Pritt said. In mild cases, she told me, concentrations of virus in a person’s system can start to decline six days after infection — meaning if you got tested after that, the result might come back negative and people who have been in contact with you might not know they were ever at risk.
You can still test positive in the first week after infection — and serious cases can test positive for far longer — but the window for when everyone is most likely to get a “negative” that truly means negative is small. There’s a reason state health departments are recommending that asymptomatic people who think they’re at risk of COVID-19 be tested five to seven days after exposure. What’s more, Woloshin said, the tests only tell you if you have the virus — not whether or when you are contagious. It all leaves a lot of room for error.
This isn’t anything unique to COVID-19. With any virus, there will be differences in how long it takes to replicate to detectable levels. Some are fast. Some, like HIV for example, can take months. And how long it takes a respiratory virus like COVID to reach a detectable point can vary based on the strain of the virus, the person’s immune system, how much virus they inhaled to begin with, and other factors. “If I get a bunch of virus at once, the amount of time it takes to replicate enough to come out my nose is shorter,” Smith said.
But there are two other reasons why false negatives happen, Pritt told me. First, the test might not have reached the parts of your body where the virus concentrates. “The gold standard is still the nasal pharynx, several inches up your nose. The amount of virus is higher there than in the tip,” she said.
Then, there’s also errors in the tests themselves. No test is perfect, after all. And different tests have different profiles of how likely they are to fail. For example, PCR tests — the ones that the virus’ genetic traces in samples taken from deep in your nose — have been kind of the workhorse of diagnostic testing throughout the pandemic. There are different kinds, but generally, experts said, they all have what is called high sensitivity — that is, if you take them at the right time, they’re pretty unlikely to mess up in ways that result in false negatives. The newer rapid tests, on the other hand, are kind of the opposite. They might turn up some false negatives, but are very unlikely to give you a false positive. These traits make the different tests most useful in different settings, Smith said. He uses rapid tests in the ER, where patients come in symptomatic and the most important thing is to be able to trust that a positive test result is for real. For broadly testing the general public, though, you’d rather use a test that produces fewer false negatives, so you don’t send asymptomatic carriers out with a false sense of confidence, he told me. The White House was using rapid tests.
There are a couple of personal lessons you can take away from the outbreak of COVID-19 within the administration. First, consider your pretest probability — or the chances you’ve actually been in contact with the virus. Your likelihood of being infected is different if you’ve been, say, hanging around in the West Wing of the White House, than if you’ve been social distancing in a low-COVID part of the country, Woloshin said. If you take a test, and it comes back negative, the person with a low probability of having COVID-19 in the first place has good reason to believe the test. The person who didn’t, on the other hand, probably shouldn’t give a negative test result too much credence.
Second, quarantines matter. If you know you were exposed to COVID-19 and you get a test and it says negative, you did not just get yourself a “Get Out of Quarantine Free” card. Even after day five, studies done on real world patients have found a 20 percent probability of a false negative test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine themselves for 14 days from the day they were exposed. McEnany didn’t do that in the days before she tested positive. It’s now been eight days since Joe Biden was exposed to President Trump during the debate, and he tested negative that whole time. But he hasn’t stopped campaigning. “As long as I’m in the window period there’s no real guaranteed safe time,” Smith said.
Third, tests can be useful tools, but you should be very careful how you use them. Say you want to hang out with some friends you haven’t seen in months — so you all go get COVID tests in preparation for meeting up. If you’re all negative, you might assume you’re in the clear. But experts are a bit cringey on that plan. “I can’t say that’s a good idea,” Pritt said. “But knowing that what people do is not always going to follow the guidelines … I understand that.”
You can use tests to reduce risk, but that only works if you know the test is just a snapshot of a moment in time. Ideally, if you’re going to try to do a “hall pass” situation, you want more than just one negative test result. You want people who have no symptoms and no exposures. You would want to get a test that has a high sensitivity. And you want to be able to trust that the people you’re getting together with are isolating themselves before and after taking the test — so you know that they didn’t walk out of the testing clinic and get infected the next day. Nothing is 100 percent, Smith told me. But, if it was done carefully, he didn’t think a hall pass was the worst idea in the world.
Ultimately, despite all the complexities, the takeaway is pretty simple, Woloshin said. “It’s a big mistake to rely only on tests,” he said. “You still need masks, social distancing, hand washing, ect. Especially if you’re in an area where there are high rates of COVID.”
The top women’s college basketball prospects in the Classes of 2022, ’23 and ’24
We released our top 100 women’s college basketball prospect rankings in the Class of 2021 in early September, a list headlined by guard Azzi Fudd.
Each of those classes is rich in talent and has players with vast potential who can impact the women’s college basketball landscape in the years to come. But which players stand out the most as of right now? Here are the players to keep an eye on in each class.
Class of 2022
1. C Lauren Betts
Grandview High School (Colorado)
Size is a coveted premium in basketball, and the 6-foot-7 Betts has that. Couple that with her current talent and vast potential, and she is the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2022.
Defensively, her height and wingspan give her a chance to block — or at least impact — any shot within an 8-to-10-foott radius. She has improved her footwork and technique, gained strength and also learned how to foul less.
Offensively, she has developed considerably over the past year. Betts is finishing her shots better, rebounding more and extending her soft touch out to the top of the key. She understands the timing of the high-low game as a passer and is better at playing out of the double team.
Betts narrowed her list of schools to nine on July 31: Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Baylor, Arizona State and South Carolina.
2. F Janiah Barker
Tampa Bay Tech Senior High School (Florida)
Barker is arguably the most naturally talented player in this class. She has been a skilled and smooth operator since she first burst on the scene. At 6-3, she has the frame and size to play the game for a long time.
Over the course of the last year, she has separated herself from the rest of the pack. Not only can she put the ball on the deck and play out of change of direction moves, but she can also catch opponents for an advantageous post up, pull up for a nice midrange jumper and attack the offensive glass.
On the defensive end, Barker is mobile enough to guard essentially anyone on the floor, a huge advantage now that there is so much switching and spacing in the game.
3. W Ayanna Patterson
Homestead High School (Indiana)
Much like her 2022 classmates mentioned above, Patterson has an elite combination of speed and jumping. Two months ago, she showcased that with a two-handed dunk after only a couple of approach dribbles.
— Ayanna Patterson (@ayannap34) August 7, 2020
Beyond that, Patterson has refined her skills and played more consistently. She plays well off the dribble to create her own shot and is almost impossible to guard in transition. The 6-3 Patterson has added a nice pull-up jumper and become a threat out to the 3-point line as well. That adds to her versatility, as she has a nice post-up game, too.
Defensively, she is a terror on the glass and is a great shot-blocker with her length and quick-jump ability, whether from the weak side or as the primary defender.
Patterson’s recruitment is wide open but includes schools such as UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Louisville, Texas, Maryland and Baylor, among others.
4. W Timea Gardiner
Fremont High School (Utah)
What makes Gardiner stand out is the poise she has displayed ever since she was a young player competing against people 3-5 years older. She plays within herself, which keeps her from playing too fast, and at 6-3 she rarely gets physically overmatched.
Gardiner is a confident ball handler who can control elements of the offense with her decision making and strong fundamentals. She has always battled on the boards and picks up defensive schemes very well.
She is immensely talented with a true jumper, and her potential to play at a high level for years to come is evident.
Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA are the finalists for her recruitment.
Class of 2023
1. G Judea Watkins
Windward School (California)
Watkins’ talent is undeniable. She has a smoothness to her game and a clear confidence on the court. She can score as well as anybody in the 2023 class and beyond thanks to her elite finishing abilities.
A 6-foot guard, Watkins knows how to use her body to keep defenders at bay. She plays for former Stanford star Vanessa Nygaard, who will only help Watkins refine her game as she enters her sophomore season.
As Watkins learns the nuances on the defensive end and becomes more consistent along the perimeter, she could become the complete package. She has a strong instinct for the game, something that separates her from the rest. Teams from each major conference are pursuing her.
2. C Aalyah Del Rosario
Trenton Catholic Academy (New Jersey)
Del Rosario is a highly coveted 6-6 post player in the 2023 class, and it isn’t just because there seem to be fewer true post players these days. She has a soft touch around the rim, passes the ball well, makes strong and aggressive post moves, and displays a solid understanding of the game as she navigates double teams and different zone defenses.
She made the leap to high school hoops as an eighth grader and has steadily improved over time. Her response to coaching helps her stand out. She is very receptive to feedback and shows a willingness to develop her game as much as she can.
Del Rosario has heavy recruitment from the likes of South Carolina, Oregon, Maryland, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina.
3. PG Milaysia Fulwiley
Keenan High School (South Carolina)
Usually when a young player plays with a lot of flair, they can lack fundamentals. That is not the case with Fulwiley. She dances through defenses with pristine footwork, as well as strong ballhandling and change-of-pace abilities. Combine that with her court vision and passing skills, and she is an elite prospect.
Not only can the 5-8 Fulwiley cross a defender and drop a dime, but she can also be patient enough to feed the post on the block. She is also skilled enough to freeze a post defender in a pick-and-roll scenario and hit the roller with a pocket pass for an easy layup.
Over time, her jumper has improved out to the 3-point line, and she finishes with contact against the best of them. Recently, she had it all on display at the famed Rucker Park in New York City. Defensively, she is smart and is now learning off-the-ball techniques that will only enhance her presence on the floor.
Among the teams recruiting Fulwiley include South Carolina, North Carolina, Miami, Florida State, Syracuse, Arizona, NC State and Ole Miss.
4. F Sammie Wagner
Reagan High School (Texas)
Wagner was extended an offer from Baylor coach Kim Mulkey relatively early, and she accepted it. That should indicate a lot about not just how talented Wagner is, but also about her intangibles. From her high school to her club team to USA Basketball trials to the prestigious camps to which she has been invited, Wagner possesses a unique confidence to her game.
She is a versatile 6-1 forward who could turn into more of a “point-forward” over time. She can stretch the floor out to the 3-point line with her ability to knock down triples. She has the frame and the strength to post up and battle inside for boards on both ends of the floor.
Defensively is where her competitiveness shines. She is often tasked with covering perimeter players and sometimes even bigs within the same game (or even the same possession). And she does not back down.
Class of 2024
Note: List is alphabetical
W Kendall Dudley
Sidwell Friends School (D.C.)
Dudley is in the discussion as the best player currently in the 2024 class. The 6-1 wing is already a unique combination of size and skill, and she has a maturity and poise to her game that separates her from many other players entering their freshman season. Dudley can finish above or through defenses, has a natural pull-up jumper, shoots the 3-ball well and distributes the ball effectively to teammates.
F Joyce Edwards
Camden High School (South Carolina)
Edwards competed among older players all summer to sharpen her skills and challenge her motor, and she was up for the task on some big stages, including when she took the court at Rucker Park earlier this month. The 6-2 Edwards is a natural when it comes to rebounding and possesses a high upside to her game.
PG Kiyomi McMiller
St. Vincent Pallotti High School (Maryland)
The 5-7 McMiller is a dynamic point guard at such a young age. She has a creativity to her game that sets up defenders for failure because they can’t keep up with her. She is a feisty on-ball defender as well and plays very well in transition. McMiller has the confidence and the ability to take over any game when she needs to.
F Taliyah Parker
Putnam City West High School (Oklahoma)
Parker has a motor that is hard to compare in the entire country, and her drive is endless. She, too, has competed against older and more experienced players during the summer. The 6-1 Parker is a relentless defender with the offensive skills to balance out things. Her jumper is sweet and she can rack it better than most.
Pound-for-pound: Teofimo Lopez Jr. turns rankings upside down
Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s impressive victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko earned him his first trip into ESPN’s pound-for-pound top 10.
“The Takeover” won a unanimous decision over Lomachenko to stay unbeaten. With the victory, Lopez unified the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles and the WBC “franchise” belt.
The win puts Lopez, 23, in good company, as he becomes the second-youngest boxer in history to win a third divisional belt (Mike Tyson holds the record, at 21 years, 37 days old in August 1987).
ESPN boxing commentator Joe Tessitore has Lopez at No. 2 in his list and noted that it’s time to reward fighters for taking — and winning — the toughest fights.
“I very much knew this would get people’s attention and bother people, by me putting Lopez at No. 2,” Tessitore said. “I believe boxing needs a massive paradigm shift, and Teofimo Lopez just delivered a sledgehammer blow to start creating that shift. We must reward results in boxing, not just status. The best fighters fighting the best fighters at the right time has to be rewarded greatly. Teofimo Lopez has the most significant current win in the sport — that’s undeniable.
“Pound-for-pound is a nebulous, strange mix of various subjective measurements, but I believe, currently on this day, that if everybody was at the same weight, and I considered skill, results, body of work, I’d have more reason to justify Crawford, Lopez, Inoue as the top three, even though others beyond Lopez might be more established and have a longer résumé.
“I clearly understand that my vote is an outlier, but we have to start rewarding and valuing big wins at big times, not just maintaining promotional or fan’s perceived status.”
Former two-division champion and ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr., who voted Lopez at No. 3, believes Lopez earned the right to be as high on his list.
“It was a historic event for both men Saturday night, and the one that persevered was a young 23-year-old with just 16 professional fights,” Bradley said. “In having limited big fight experience as well as making his first title defense against arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, Lopez showed the world that he is beyond his years in skill, mental toughness and supreme confidence. Therefore, the new multi-belt holder deserves to be at No. 3, in my opinion.”
ESPN writer Cameron Wolfe’s explanation for voting Lopez at No. 5 is very clear: Lopez’s win over Lomachenko is probably the best victory that anyone on this pound-for-pound list has had in recent years.
“His win over Lomachenko, coupled with his early KO of Richard Commey back in December, earns Lopez a top-five spot in my pound-for-pound list,” Wolfe said. “His résumé isn’t as deep as others on this list yet, which is why he isn’t higher, but more wins while taking these sort of challenges could help Lopez challenge Crawford for the top spot within a year or two.
“Lopez’s time is now, and his next milestone could be becoming pound-for-pound best. He’s much more than just a power puncher. Lopez is showing a willingness to take extremely risky fights early in his career and not worry about protecting his record, which is something boxing has been severely lacking in.”
Showtime boxing analysts Eric Raskin was tempted to put Lopez higher than his final No. 4 spot but explained why he decided to hold that thought — for now.
“We have a bit of a conundrum atop the pound-for-pound list right now, with nobody forcefully staking a claim to No. 1,” Raskin said. “Crawford hasn’t been fighting elite opposition the last few years, Canelo is entirely inactive right now, and Inoue most recently struggled more than expected in his win over Nonito Donaire. Still, I can’t quite place Lopez ahead of any of them, as his track record is extremely limited.
“You could make a case for placing Spence above Lopez, but I lean toward Lopez, given the exceptional ability of the fighter he just defeated (cleanly, in my view, eight rounds to four). In pound-for-pound rankings, beating ‘the man’ doesn’t automatically make you ‘the man.’ It’s not a lineal title. It’s based on a combination of accomplishment and perceived ability, with an emphasis on recent performances, and for me, that all adds up to No. 4 — for now — for Lopez.”
Our ESPN panel members — Bradley, Tessitore, Wolfe, Raskin, Andre Ward, Teddy Atlas, Steve Kim, Nick Parkinson, Ben Baby, Bernardo Pilatti, Charles Moynihan and Salvador Rodriguez — share their lists.
For a list of the current champions in all weight classes, click here.
Note: Results are through Thursday, Oct. 20.
1. TERENCE CRAWFORD Previous ranking: No. 2
RECORD: 36-0, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Dec. 14
NEXT FIGHT: Nov. 14 vs. Kell Brook
2. CANELO ALVAREZ Previous ranking: No. 3
RECORD: 53-1-2, 36 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (champion), super middleweight (“regular” titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (KO11) Sergey Kovalev, Nov. 2
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
3. NAOYA INOUE Previous ranking: No. 4
RECORD: 19-0, 16 KOs
DIVISION: Bantamweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Nonito Donaire, Nov. 7
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Jason Moloney
4. ERROL SPENCE JR. Previous ranking: No. 5
RECORD: 26-0, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (SD12) Shawn Porter, Sept. 28
NEXT FIGHT: Dec. 5 vs. Danny Garcia
5. TEOFIMO LOPEZ JR. Previous ranking: NOT RANKED
RECORD: 16-0, 12 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
6. VASILIY LOMACHENKO Previous ranking: No. 1
RECORD: 14-2, 10 KOs
LAST FIGHT: L (UD12) Teofimo Lopez Jr., Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
7. OLEKSANDR USYK Previous ranking: No. 6
RECORD: 17-0, 13 KOs
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Chazz Witherspoon, Oct. 12
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Dereck Chisora
8. TYSON FURY Previous ranking: No. 7
RECORD: 30-0-1, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Deontay Wilder, Feb. 22
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
9. JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA Previous ranking: No. 8
RECORD: 40-3, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Junior bantamweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Dewayne Beamon, Aug. 24
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 23 vs. Carlos Cuadras
10. GENNADIY GOLOVKIN Previous ranking: No. 9
RECORD: 40-1-1, 35 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Oct. 5, 2019
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
The rankings are based on a descending points system, with a first-place vote receiving 10 points, a second-place vote receiving nine points and so on. A tie goes to the fighter with the highest ranking and then the one with the most votes at that ranking.
Others receiving votes: Manny Pacquiao (12), Artur Beterbiev (6), Josh Taylor (3), Jermall Charlo (3), Mikey Garcia (2), Miguel Berchelt (1)
How our writers voted
Atlas: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lomachenko, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Pacquiao, 8. Lopez, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Fury
Bradley: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Lopez, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Spence, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Beterbiev
Ward: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Fury, 4. Usyk, 5. Inoue, 6. Spence, 7. Lopeze, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Estrada, 10. Beterbiev
Tessitore: 1. Crawford, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Inoue, 4. Canelo, 5. Usyk, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Berchelt, 9. Golovkin, 10. Beterbiev
Kim: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Alvarez, 4. Usyk, 5. Lopez, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Estrada, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Fury
Parkinson: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Fury, 5. Lopez, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Taylor
Baby: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Usyk, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Golovkin
Wolfe: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Lopez, 6. Fury, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Golovkin, 10. Pacquiao
Raskin: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lopez, 5. Lomachenko, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Fury, 9. Taylor, 10. Pacquiao
Moynihan: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Alvarez, 4. Inoue, 5. Usyk, 6. Golovkin, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Garcia, 10. Fury
Pilatti: 1. Inoue, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Spence, 4. Crawford, 5. Lopez, 6. Alvarez, 7. Golovkin, 8. Estrada, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Fury
Rodriguez: 1. Canelo, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Usyk, 5. Spence, 6. Fury, 7. Lopez, 8. Estrada, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Pacquiao
ESPN experts’ poll
First place: Crawford (7), Alvarez (3), Inoue (2)
Second place: Alvarez (5), Crawford (4), Spence (1), Lopez (1), Lomachenko (1)
Third place: Inoue (5), Spence (3), Alvarez (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1)
Fourth place: Inoue (4), Usyk (3), Lomachenko (2), Crawford (1), Lopez (1), Fury (1)
Fifth place: Lopez (4), Spence (2), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Inoue (1), Lomachenko (1), Usyk (1)
Sixth place: Spence (4), Usyk (3), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1)
Seventh place: Lopez (4), Usyk (3), Estrada (2), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1), Pacquiao (1)
Eighth place: Lomachenko (5), Spence (2), Estrada (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1), Charlo (1)
Ninth place: Pacquiao (3), Golovkin (2), Beterbiev (2), Lomachenko (1), Fury (1), Estrada (1), Taylor (1), Garcia (1)
10th place: Fury (4), Golovkin (2), Pacquiao (2), Beterbiev (2), Taylor (1), Berchelt (1)
Ex-Wolverine Collins: Felt like ‘no-man’s land’
Former Michigan star wide receiver Nico Collins said Tuesday that while it would be “bittersweet” to watch his former team open the season at Minnesota on Saturday, he was focused on getting ready for the NFL Combine.
On “The Adam Schefter Podcast” Tuesday night, Collins talked about his decision to opt-out when the Big Ten postponed the football season in August, after deciding to return for his senior season.
“Everything was going smooth, just as planned, until this virus outbreak,” said Collins, who is currently training in Pensacola, Florida.
“They canceled the season and that was heartbreaking for me,” he said on the podcast. “They were saying in the spring, Thanksgiving, it was too many unknown questions to be answering. Nobody really had an answer to it.
“I sat down with my family, and I just made a business decision because I felt like I was in no-man’s land for a minute, because I came back to play my senior season and they canceled it.”
Citing daily testing capabilities and a stronger confidence in the latest medical information, the conference announced an eight-game season in September. Collins said he considered opting back in, but that the timing wasn’t right.
On Monday, coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t have “a crystal ball” as to whether Collins would change his mind. “I know he’s not currently on the team.”
“Getting my mind right and prepared for the combine was the right decision for me,” Collins said Tuesday.
Still, he said, “it will be bittersweet” watching as No. 18 Michigan opens Saturday at No. 21 Minnesota.
“I want to be out there competing on the football field with my brothers, my teammates, going out and having fun with them. I’ll be rooting for them 100 percent. I’m excited to see, hopefully they win – they will win. I believe in them. The grind they put in throughout the summer. I know they worked really hard and I know it’s going to pay off Saturday.”
Collins had 78 receptions for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns over his three-year career. He had 37 catches for 729 yards and seven scores last year.
Losing Collins was significant for a team that also had to replace quarterback Shea Patterson, four starting offensive linemen, and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Harbaugh on Monday said his other receivers have been “really good” this offseason, specifically giving praise to Giles Jackson, A.J. Henning, Cornelius Johnson, Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson and Mike Sainristil.
“One of the really good things about our offense’s growth has been the receiving group,” Harbaugh said, “their ability to get separation, to gain separation, create separation, and to catch the contested catches.”
The question is who will be throwing for Michigan.
While Harbaugh said Joe Milton, a redshirt sophomore, has been practicing with the first-team offense, he declined to confirm he would start on Saturday. Harbaugh said quarterback Cade McNamara has “closed all gaps as well.”
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