Collins brings versatility, unselfish attitude

Collins brings versatility, unselfish attitude
April 26, 2013, 10:00 pm
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FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins is not a spoiled football player.

The outside linebacker, selected by the Patriots at 52 overall, was a three year starter at Southern Mississippi. In 52 games he had 21 sacks, 314 tackles, 45 stops for losses, and seven forced fumbles.

Win total his senior season: Zero.

"It's motivation and it's adversity," Collins said of the lesson learned. "Everybody has to deal with adversity. It's not just about losing every game and not being able to play hard. I felt like I had to play hard every game just because we were losing -- like I was doing it anyway -- I felt like that was going to draw a lot of attention to me to see how I played despite the fact that we went 0-12."

How he handled a miserable season wasn't the only appeal. Collins has traveled an interesting on-field path to get to where he is.

The 6-3, 250-pounder played quarterback, receiver, and safety at Franklin County (Missouri) High School before moving to outside linebacker. He began his career at Southern Miss as a safety, transitioning to linebacker before his sophomore season. That year, 2010, Collins was also a gunner on the punt team.

Think that's where the hopping stopped? No. His senior season he was tapped to be a true defensive end.

"That was my first year of playing it. It felt good. I just never thought sacking a quarterback would feel so good," Collins laughed. "It just gives you a chance to stop the play."

He led the Golden Eagles in 2012 with 92 tackles (66 solo). His 10 sacks were ranked 21st in the nation.

Not bad for a new position. Good enough, in fact, for First Team All-Conference USA honors. And Collins values the experience of being counted on in different spots.

What did he learn?

"Versatility. Going from quarterback, to safety, to end. You've got a lot of mobility and just a lot more things you can use as a defensive end just because you played safety. And I think I can use those to my advantage."

As for his pass rushing strengths: "Just natural raw talent. Just to do things I have to do to get to the quarterback."