NFL player Alex Collins says Irish dance is the secret to his football success

OWING MILLS, Md. -- Suppose for a moment you were an NFL running back. How would you train? Weights? Running?

One NFL player is stepping into stardom, CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reports.

Alex Collins, a 23-year-old running back with the Baltimore Ravens, is having a banner year, and he's leading the NFL in yards per carry.

But people are starting to notice that he sometimes runs like he's dancing, and in fact he is -- he's Irish dancing.

He learned it from the daughter of his high school football coach, who he calls his little sister. He says he was surprised by how hard it was.

"I was drenched in sweat, having 12-year-olds laugh at me was not fun," Collins said.


Alex Collins practicing the Irish river dance

CBS News

But he stuck with it, and now he says Irish dance is the secret to his football success.

"I just feel more explosive since I'm always on my toes now, you know, I feel like I have calf muscles like the Hulk from Irish dancing," he said.

He showed CBS News some of his moves and how he applies Irish dance to football.

Reid said, "So, I'm a big scary linebacker and I'm coming at you and you do..."

"I'll just shake 'em like that, get 'em out of the way with my little Irish jig, and then do a little dance at the end," Collins said.

Off the field, he's become an ambassador for Irish dance, and in some cases, a defender.


Alex Collins with Carl Tubbs and his family

CBS News

This past Sunday he met 12-year-old Carl Tubbs who says he was being bullied because he's studying Irish dance.

Tubbs' mother reached out to Collins, who jumped at the chance to help.

"I want to let you know I'm proud of you, man. I'm going to be following your career, man," Collins told Tubbs.

For Tubbs, it was exactly what he needed.

"It's really inspired me to keep on going with Irish dance," Tubbs said.

"It makes me feel amazing, it makes me feel like I'm making a difference in someone else's life," Collins said.

Irish dance is making a difference in his life too -- in ways he never imagined.