STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) –Geoff Collins has been promoted to defensive coordinator, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen announced Friday. Collins has served the past two seasons as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach on the Bulldog staff.
“Geoff is an exceptional defensive mind and his energy and passion are remarkable,” Mullen said. “His experience as a play-caller and previous experience as a defensive coordinator will make this an easy transition.”
Collins joined the staff in 2011 and immediately raised the bar at linebackers for the MSU squad in 2011, tutoring Cameron Lawrence to 123 total tackles, while former walkon Brandon Wilson reached 94 tackles in his first season under Collins’ tutelage.
This past season, Collins had two linebackers finish in the top five in the SEC in total tackles; Lawrence (120) and Benardrick McKinney (102). Lawrence has become the first Bulldog with 100-plus tackles in back-to-back seasons since 1994-95, while McKinney is in the top five in the country in total tackles by a freshman. With State not having had two players in the top 10 in the SEC in tackles since 1997, Collins’ troops have accomplished the feat in each of his first two seasons in Starkville.
In his year before joining the Bulldogs, Collins’ defensive unit led the Sun Belt in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin; all a remarkable accomplishment for a group that finished 119th nationally in total defense and 111th in scoring defense in 2009. The Panthers’ sack totals nearly doubled, and the pass defense improved from 108th nationally to 32nd in 2010. For his efforts, Collins was a finalist for the Broyles Award – given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Collins made the move to FIU after a pair of seasons as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF. In his first season in Orlando, Collins helped UCF’s defense rank second in Conference USA in total and scoring defense. Before joining the Knights’ staff , Collins spent a year as the director of player personnel at Alabama. The previous year at Georgia Tech, Collins’ efforts led to the Yellow Jackets best recruiting class in their storied history.
In 2002 Collins became the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at his alma mater, Western Carolina, and inherited one of the worst defensive units statistically in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. In 2003, under Collins’ direction, the Catamount defense emerged as one of the best in the nation.
In 2005, the Western Carolina defense was ranked No. 1 nationally in pass defense along with being ranked 18th nationally in total defense. Collins’ unit also ranked first in the Southern Conference in total defense and pass defense along with several other defensive categories.