HILTON HEAD, S.C. - Former Charleston Southern football standout Collin Drafts was officially inducted into the Big South Conference Hall of Fame on Thursday evening at The Marriott Resort on Hilton Head Island as a part of the league's annual Spring Meetings and Hall of Fame Dinner.
The first football player to be inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame, Drafts was a catalyst during the league's early football years from 2003-06. A three-time All-Big South selection at quarterback, he was the 2005 Big South Offensive Player of the Year and earned Honorable Mention All-American honors that season from the Weekly Football Gazette.
Drafts becomes the fifth Charleston Southern player/coach to be inducted into the conference hall of fame, joining coaches Howard Bagwell and Jim Settle, and athletes Hans Olsen (men's tennis) and Jim Gardas (men's golf).
The impact of being the first football player inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame was not lost on Drafts following the ceremony.
"It's kind of surreal when you talk about being the first football player inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame," he admitted. "It's definitely an honor; I know there are a lot of great players that came before me, played with and against me, and played after me, so I know I will not be the only one. It's kind of neat to hear that for sure, but definitely even more special to be inducted as a representative of Charleston Southern."
Drafts was introduced by former CSU head football coach Jay Mills prior to taking the stage and he reflected on the relationship he had built with his former coach over the last 14 years.
"What a neat relationship it's been," Drafts laughed. "Coach Mills did the first in-home visit with me when he got the job. I had been offered by CSU by the former head coach before he'd been hired, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. When Coach Mills came in and I got to know him, I knew I wanted to come to Charleston Southern and do something that had never been done before. He was really the driving force."
Drafts continued, "He taught me how to play quarterback and how to be a leader. He really transformed me into the player I was those four years and to the coach I am today. I get a lot of those characteristics from Coach Mills. I'm very grateful to have played for him during my time at Charleston Southern."
The Buccaneers struggled at the beginning of the Drafts and Mills era at CSU, but there was never any doubt in Drafts' mind that CSU was going to be special.
"It was really neat to come in that first year," he said. "I wasn't the only true freshman to start that year and we took our lumps, but really banded together. Even though we were kind of bad that first year, we all knew that we were going to click and that something special was going to happen. We knew we were young and were going to grow. We bonded as a team after the tragic death of Eddie Gadson and that helped us realize life was more than just a game. I feel like the teams that bond and grow together through times of adversity go even farther on the field. We were able to do that and turn that into winning football and that was a lot of fun."
Football continues to be a major part of Drafts' life as he will be on the sidelines as the head coach of A.C. Flora High School outside of Columbia, S.C. this fall.
Drafts led Charleston Southern to its first-ever Big South football championship in 2005 with a 34-27 double-overtime comeback win over No. 8 Coastal Carolina in the season finale. The four-year starter helped turn the Bucs around from 1-11 as a freshman in 2003 to 5-5 as a sophomore, 7-4 as a junior and 9-2 as a senior, and the program achieved its first-ever national ranking during Drafts' time at quarterback.
Voted to the Big South Football All-Decade Team for 2002-09, Drafts was an eight-time Big South Player of the Week honoree (seven – offense, one – freshman), and earned two Weekly Football Gazette National Player of the Week and two College Sporting News National Weekly All-Star honors during his career.
Drafts graduated in 2006 as the Big South's all-time leader in 13 categories: passing yards (9,768), touchdowns responsible for (90), total offense yards (10,571) and total offense per game (240.3) -- conference records that stood for nine seasons, in addition to passing efficiency (134.43), passing yards per game (222.00), 300-yard total offensive games (11) and completion percentage (62.0) -- all which have been surpassed in recent years.
He remains the Big South's career leader in pass completions (833), attempts (1,344), touchdown passes (73), 20-TD pass seasons (3), most 4-TD pass games (6), multi-TD pass games (21) and total offensive plays (1,848). He also rushed for 803 yards and 17 scores during this time at CSU. He remains the Bucs' career leader in touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, passing TDs, completion percentage, total offensive yards and total offensive touchdowns, and still holds numerous program single-game and season records.
Drafts set a Big South single-game record with 453 yards of offense vs. Gardner-Webb in 2006 (now third-highest single-game total), and set the Big South single-game passing record with 419 yards in 2004 (now second-highest). He remains the only quarterback in Big South history with two 400-yard passing games and two 5-TD pass efforts.
Drafts was inducted into Charleston Southern's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.
Drafts was joined in the Big South 2017 Hall of Fame class by former Radford volleyball and women's basketball player Anne Fontaine, former Winthrop Director of Athletics Tom Hickman, and former Coastal Carolina women's basketball, tennis and softball player Brooke Weisbrod. The 2017 Hall of Fame class was first announced on April 11.
The Big South Hall of Fame, created in 2003 as part of the league's 20th anniversary celebration, now totals 65 former Big South Conference student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors with the addition of this year's class.