Franklin Co.’s Jamie Collins experiencing his Super Bowl dream
It seems like everyone has a Jamie Collins story these days, and for good reason.
You cannot travel around Franklin County or south Mississippi without hearing one or two, and sometimes maybe three or four stories.
‘Remember when Jamie scored that touchdown in the State Championship?’
Or how about when he blocked that field goal in college, or remember that game against South Pike when he knocked those two receivers out cold, while playing safety. Hey, did you see Jamie in the NFL Combine, breaking those records?
The list of Jamie Collins stories are not just long, they are epic. My personal favorites ‘Is when Jamie Dunked 10-times in a High School Basketball Game!’
Or when his legend started as a wide-eyed sophomore when it took a Collins to beat Collins!
That was the game Jamie scored the game-winning touchdown at Collins in the third round of the 2006 South State 3A Playoffs. With 14 seconds remaining, Jamie ran the touchdown in from 50-yards out, faking like he was going out of bounds at the 40 only to shake the defender with a shoulder lean and run down the sidelines, finally bowling over a tackler at the goal line.
“That was the play of our season,” said former Franklin County head coach Grady McCluskey. “If he runs out of bounds we lose, if he gets tackled in bounds we lose. He took the team on his back and carried us to a State Championship on that one play!”
Now Jamie Collins will be playing in a Super Bowl come Sunday.
The 6-4, 255-pound starting linebacker of the New England Patriots has become the new X-Factor of the NFL. He’s been called a ‘Freak of Nature’ by current and former players, and the words plays like ‘Lawrence Taylor’ has been uttered by NFL coaches throughout the league.
Kids call him a ‘Beast’, coaches call him a ‘Freak’ but the locals in his hometown of Franklin County, just call him ‘Super Man.’
From McCall Creek to Roxie, Jamie’s been called Super Man since leading FCHS to a state championship in 2006 as a sophomore Quarterback/Safety.
He didn’t get his first rep at linebacker until the playoffs of his senior season, and that was maybe three snaps total.
Still wherever the Franklin County coaches put Jamie, he excelled.
“He had the best hands on the team, but he was such a good athlete we couldn’t move him from Quarterback,” said Brookhaven High assistant coach Jeremy Loy, who ran the offense at Franklin County when Collins was a sophomore and a junior.
Larry Fedora, the than USM coach recruited Jamie when SEC schools questioned what his best position was. Auburn liked Jamie at safety, Mississippi State saw him as a tight end, Tennessee talked wide receiver and safety, LSU even threw out the defensive end scenario after a redshirt year, with another year of learning the position, other lesser D1’s called offering him as QB, but USM and linebackers coach David Duggan saw something that no one else saw – a future NFL linebacker with speed, agility, and playmaking abilities.
On signing day, the decision was easy – USM was his choice. And two months later when Jamie sit in Duggan’s office before watching the USM Spring Game, a personal message stood out from him that Duggan told “A lot of freshmen don’t come in here and start, but I think you can.”
Turns out Duggan was right, Jamie flourished at Southern Miss and became the player he envisioned.
So when Bill Belichick flew into Hattiesburg in March of 2013 to work Jamie out privately, another vision took place – the future linebacker of the Patriots. Belichick and Jamie clicked, and for a great reason. Each doesn’t say much, both are to the point, and neither has time to sit back and relax because both know there is work to be done.
“He started off as a quarterback in high school, went to Southern Miss as a safety, and they moved him to inside linebacker, then he played outside linebacker in a 3-4, then his senior year he played defensive end in a 4-3 and was rarely in coverage,” Belichick explained recently about the Jamie’s progression.
“I would say looking at him coming out of college, you wouldn’t say that he was overly proficient in any of those areas, but I think you could see a lot of improvement in his play over the course of the year,” said Belichick. “Like as a pass-rusher, as a defensive end, he progressed a lot, but only played one year. Same thing as an inside linebacker, same thing as an outside linebacker, really even watching him play safety a little bit as a freshman. He was a quarterback in high school. You could see that kind of progression, but every year they either moved him or had a staff change, which then led to a scheme change, which then precipitated him changing.”
In year two of Belichick’s system, Jamie has become a star. His tallied over 100 tackles, four sacks, and picked off passes and forced fumbles.
“I think he’s the most underrated player in the NFL,” said Colts QB Andrew Luck “He can do so many things in that defense.”
Jamie has given Luck nightmares the last two years, knocking him and the Colts out of the playoffs each time.
Now comes Sunday, Jamie is pumped, he’s ready, and he’s chomping at the bits to play the defending Super Bowl champions in the biggest game of his career.
The last time he’s played in game that meant so much was the 2006 Class 3A State Championship, Jamie scored three touchdowns in that game and picked off three passes in a 23-13 win over Nettleton.
Nine years later he’s in the Super Bowl, and everyone will be watching.