Parker Collins, a 2013 graduate of North Augusta High School, pauses for a picture April 5 to celebrate signing to join the Carolina Panthers' practice squad.

Parker Collins won't have any great distances to travel in the months ahead as he aims to complete a great leap in his football career, having signed Friday to join the Carolina Panthers' 90-man roster.

The 2013 North Augusta High School graduate, who turned heads and put the brakes on opponents as an offensive lineman, confirmed the news Friday afternoon. Collins, now listed at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds, is on track for travel to Charlotte (the Panthers' home base) and Spartanburg (the home of Wofford College, where the Panthers have their training camp in mid-summer). 

“They signed me to a contract today," he said, confirming a trip to Charlotte to handle the paperwork. "Starting April 15, we begin organized training activities ... From there, we'll go into OTA practices, and then into mini-camp, and then we have about a month break, and then we'll go into training camp."

The next step will be pre-season games, and at that point, the roster will be trimmed to 53 men. The current situation is "unbelievably nice," he said. 

Collins was a standout at Appalachian State University, playing for his first three seasons as a guard, and serving as center in his senior year. He graduated in 2017, and has pursued a career in football since then. 

The most recent step, he said, was in the Alliance of American Football, playing for the Atlanta Legends, as a center. The AAF, however, ran into major financial trouble and folded this month, eight weeks into its inaugural season.

Collins said the AAF then allowed NFL teams to begin signing AAF players, and "I was immediately contacted by the Carolina Panthers." 

Collins has also spent time with the Steelers, being signed in April 2018 but waived in August 2018 with an injury designation.

His focus now, he said, will be on "working out, staying in shape and spending time with my family and loved ones."