When head coach Dan Mullen had a spot to fill on his defensive staff, he set his sights on one of the rising stars on that side of the ball. Geoff Collins came to Mississippi State in 2011 as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach after putting together a remarkable resume during stints at Florida International and UCF.
Collins immediately raised the bar at linebackers for the MSU squad, coaching Cameron Lawrence to 123 total tackles in 2011, ranking top five in the SEC. In addition, former walk-on Brandon Wilson reached 94 tackles last season under Collins’ tutelage.
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 finished ranked first in the Southern Conference in total defense and pass defense along with several other defensive categories.
Prior to returning to Western Carolina, Collins spent three years with current UCF head coach George O’Leary at Georgia Tech. Collins began his career on the Flats as the defensive graduate assistant working with the linebackers in 1999 and with the defensive backs in 2000.
Before his days at Georgia Tech, Collins spent two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers and secondary coach at Albright College in Reading, Pa. In 1997, the NCAA Division III program boasted the leading defense in its conference and ranked in the top 10 nationally in all defensive categories.
In 1996, Collins served as an assistant coach at Fordham, working with the outside linebackers while also serving as the junior varsity defensive coordinator. He also spent one season (1995) as an assistant coach at Franklin (N.C.) High School while student teaching in the Macon County Public Schools.
During his playing days at Western Carolina, Collins tallied 194 tackles as an outside linebacker and defensive back from 1989-92. He was the team’s fifth-leading tackler as a junior with 68, while registering 6.0 tackles for loss. As a senior, he helped Western to a 7-4 record, logging 62 total takedowns and 5.0 tackles for loss. He began his coaching career as a student assistant on the Western Carolina staff in 1993.
A native of Conyers, Ga., who attended Rockdale County High School, Collins earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina in sport management and exercise science in 1994, and then completed the education curriculum in 1995. He did postgraduate work in psychology at Fordham University and Georgia Tech.
2011- Mississippi State (Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers)
2010: Florida International (Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers)
2008-09: UCF (Linebackers / Recruiting Coordinator)
2007: Alabama (Director of Player Personnel)
2006: Georgia Tech (Recruiting Coordinator)
2002-05: Western Carolina (Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Backs)
1999-2001: Georgia Tech (Graduate Assistant)
1997-98: Albright College (Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers)
1995: Franklin (N.C.) High School
1993-94: Western Carolina (Student Assistant)
Birthdate: April 10, 1971
Hometown: Conyers, Ga.
Education: 1994 – Bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina