Over the last 13 years, he lost contact with everyone but family. He follows sports. He reads the Bible. He plays fantasy football. He moved between four prisons and now in lives in this rural Florida prison with 1,500 inmates that includes murderers, child molesters, armed robbers and drug dealers.
Collins returned to court three times, and once won a re-sentencing hearing. But the new judge looked over the same evidence and gave him the same 15 years.
"I had to accept it,'' he says.
In 2006, he wore his prison blues and Elena a wedding dress as they married. The reception consisted of bread and cranberry juice. He phones Elena, who lives in Broward, several times a day. She visits on weekends.
"All I get is one embrace and one kiss when she visits,'' he says. "You hold too long, you hear, 'That's enough.' That's all — for six years! Just imagine the sparks we'll have when I get out!"
Collins is due to be released next summer. He hopes to make it sooner through petitions and good behavior, though what happens next is uncertain. He wants to coach ("Think I'd be allowed?" he asks.). He wants to be a good husband ("I'm going to work at that,'' he says.).
There's a bit of Tom Hanks in "Castaway" to his talk, a man out of society so long he isn't sure exactly how it works anymore. Email? He's never done it. A phone that can take pictures? He doesn't understand it.
He shakes his head. "I've got some catching up to do."
But there's an unusual sense of gratitude to his past 13 years, too. As if they were the only way The Diesel could be gone.
"I have no regrets, no grudges, none of that,'' he says. "What happened to me in that time saved my life. I believe if I was left out there with that same mindset, I'd be dead or my life would be totally in shambles.
"It made me grow so much and showed me how to be a man and to live and walk in life. These 15 years they gave me, it seemed bad at first. But I met the most beautiful woman in the world in prison. I found God in prison. I've come out of it much better than when I came in."
Sometimes he'll be jolted back to better days. He was listening on radio to the Louisiana high school playoffs last year when the announcer mentioned Collins ran for the third-most yards in the state.
"I could run, I had a chance to do something,'' he says.
"I tossed the football to the ref, which is the way I was taught,'' he says. "[Guard] Mark Dixon got it from the ref and gave it to me. He said, 'You'll want to keep this.' "
That's how we want to relate our sports names. A good run. A sweet memory. But the football sits in his mom's home in Louisiana now with the only other one Collins got in his short career.
His belongings these past 13 years are kept in a small crate. A Bible. The radio. Letters and photos.
"I'll walk out of here with the Bible,'' he says.
There's a knock on the door of the interview room. Time's up. A prison guard is called to give Collins a strip search, per prison rules. He sighs and runs a hand over his face.
"Thirteen years of this,'' he says.
He stands up. He waits for the guard. He has to sweep next, and then will call his wife. Or listen to talk radio. There is no great moral to his story as Day 4,711 ticks down, though he wants to underline one thing, just to be sure as the guard enters the room.
"Make sure you let people know The Diesel isn't around anymore,'' he says. "If you get to know Cecil, he's a good person."