On Thursday, Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops announced the hire of Chris Collins as the Wildcats’ defensive backs coach. He replaces Steve Clinkscale, who joined Michigan as its defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator.
“Each time I talked to Chris,” Coach Stoops said, “I came away more and more impressed with him. He brings great energy and enthusiasm to the staff on the field and as a recruiter.”
Collins spent the past four years working as the safeties coach at Georgia State. He joined the team as part of the 2017 coaching overhaul that replaced everyone but the strength coach and medicine and equipment managers.
“I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity to be here,” Collins said at his introductory presser, “Coach Stoops has done a phenomenal job of building the program and continuing the develop the brand.”
In 2019 he took on an additional role as the team’s recruiting coordinator. His 2020 class was the best in program history, according to 247Sports, and included the school’s second and fifth-highest ranked prospects ever.
“We had a smaller department [at Georgia State] in terms of recruiting, we did not have a lot of hands on deck,” Collins said about now recruiting for an SEC school, “[at Kentucky] I’m excited to have a lot more resources to be able to grow in that creativity. How we reach kids, how we reach their families; get them on campus and give them an opportunity to see what a phenomenal place we have to offer both academically and football program-wise.”
In his first season at GSU the Panthers allowed a school-low 24.75 points per game; GSU finished 7-5 that season and beat Western Kentucky 27-17 in the Cure Bowl.
Among his players that season was All-Sun Belt honorable mention Bryan Williams. Williams holds GSU records for most interceptions in both a game and season and is second in career picks for the school.
The following year was an unimpressive 2-10 for the Panthers, but in his final two years at the school the team went 13-10 and won the LendingTree Bowl.
While by no means a defensive back factory, Kentucky has developed a good host of corners and safeties in recent years. Mike Edwards was a third-round selection and won a Super Bowl as a rotational safety for Tampa Bay. Lonnie Johnson, Jr. starts for Houston and Kelvin Joseph was Dallas’ second round pick in this year’s draft.
Of the rostered UK defensive backs, senior Yusuf Corker is the marquee name. Corker was an All-SEC player as a junior but has been a week-to-week starter since 2018. The 2021 Wildcats will add rising freshman Jordan Lovett, a three-star local to Kentucky, and have two more three-stars in the pipeline.
Collins is the third former Sun Belt coach to join Stoops’ staff, according to Kentucky Sports Radio’s Adam Luckett. Inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall spent four seasons with Troy before his cup of coffee with Ole Miss and ultimately ending at UK; former CFL DPOY Anwar Stewart did a stint at Appalachian State before landing in Lexington as a defensive line coach.
The Panthers touched gloves one time each with his new colleagues during their Sun Belt stints; GSU lost both.
Collins will make his competitive debut for the Wildcats against former Sun Belt rival Louisiana-Monroe. He’s 2-2 against the Warhawks, but he’s lost the past two matchups. ULM and UK have never played each other; it will be the first matchup between the schools ever.
That game is the season and home opener for the Wildcats on September 4th, 2021. Kickoff is at noon.