Jaylen McCollough, a four-star safety out of Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, signed his letter of intent with the Tennessee Volunteers today. McCollough, who goes by the nickname “Tank”, is a perfect fit for head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s aggressive, attacking defensive style.
Tennessee Vols Sign Jaylen McCollough
247Sports.com industry composite ranks McCollough as the 162nd-ranked prospect in this class and 14th best at the safety position. Nine Volunteers commits expect to enroll early in Knoxville, including McCollough. Five of those expected early enrollees are rated four-stars or higher and five are also from the state of Georgia.
McCollough exemplifies everything Pruitt wants to do in recruiting: get a hard nosed football player that’s ready to play today, fits the system, get them on campus, and get them into the program as soon as possible. He’s also another Atlanta-area player making the short trip up I-75.
Consistency on the Back End
Inconsistency plagued the defensive secondary last season. While the cornerbacks could use youth as an excuse, the safeties could not. Nigel Warrior, Micah Abernathy, Theo Jackson, and Todd Kelly, Jr. all struggled to play at a consistently high level throughout the season. While Warrior and Abernathy were fairly effective in the run defense, none of Tennessee’s safeties had an interception in 2018.
McCollough, at 6’0″, 195, figures to be part of Tennessee’s rotation in the back end early with Abernathy and Kelly, Jr. departing due to graduation. McCollough also played running back in high school with tremendous success. But there’s little chance of a position-switch with this player. He is exactly the type of safety for Pruitt’s defensive style.
Found some little Vols and had to capture a picture. It’s bigger than football ? pic.twitter.com/0YByhf27Vf
— Jaylen McCollough (@Jay_Mccollough2) November 2, 2018
Any Atlanta-area safety coming to Tennessee will have to live in Eric Berry’s shadow. Berry was also a star high school safety in the Atlanta area, albeit on the southwest side of town rather than the northwest. Nigel Warrior, Tennessee’s current starter at safety, is also from the Atlanta area. McCollough resembles both players, with the obvious exception of Berry’s elite athleticism. Of course, very few can match up with that.
But while there’s a lot to like, there’s also a lot to prove. If all the indications are correct, then McCollough will have a chance to prove himself in Knoxville very soon.