6’0″ 205 pounds
A four-star recruit in Tennessee football’s 2019 class, Jaylen McCollough was an early enrollee that year and came away with two interceptions in the spring game. He then stepped into the starting free safety role midway through the 2020 season due to injuries and developed while playing alongside Nigel Warrior.
Last year, with Warrior gone and nickel Shawn Shamburger only playing three games, there was a drop-off in the secondary, and McCollough was a huge part of that, as he moved over to strong safety. However, McCollough still started every game, and a big reason for the drop-off was the fact that he was dealing with nagging injuries and the COVID-19 restrictions.
Throughout all of that, the coaches were still committed to playing him at strong safety, and that’s likely to be the case once again. McCollough is a very physical player, as he has five and a half tackles for a loss and a sack over the past two years along with four pass deflections.
Having not lost his starting job ever since he took it, a full offseason to develop makes it likely he’ll hold onto this job. There is competition behind him with Tyus Fields, another rising star, and veterans Cheyenne Labruzza and Theo Jackson. However, Jackson being likely to play nickel makes McCollough that much safer.