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2013 Blitz: #32 Jalen Collins

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Can Jalen Collins keep a hold on a starting spot?

LSU is 27 days away from the start of fall camp and Geaux247 continues to take a look at the returning veterans to get you to the beginning of camp.

Today, we take a look at sophomore cornerback Jalen Collins .

#32 Jalen Collins

Coming out of High School: If there is one position that LSU has had a lot of success at under Les Miles with finding gems at camp it would have to be cornerback.

Projected starting cornerback Jalen Mills earned an offer from the Tigers with a camp performance in July of 2011.

An even bigger success story, however, is with Jalen Collins.

Mills had offers from a host of mid-level FBS schools prior to camping with LSU. Collins, on the other hand, had zero offers when he put his talent on display for former defensive backs coach Ron Cooper at the June camp in 2010.

Cooper asked Collins, who was a three-star prospect in the 247Composite but rated a four-star by 247Sports, to return for the July camp so they could get another look at him.

Collins did just that and by the time he was done at LSU the second time around he had his first offer. And one week later he pulled the trigger.

In Collins, LSU saw a 6-foot-1, long, rangy cornerback that was light at 180 pounds, but had the potential to be a good one.

Surprisingly, no other schools offered despite attending one-day camps that same summer at Memphis and Mississippi State.

Some of that was due to a lack of film as he recorded 17 tackles as a junior at DeSoto before transferring to Olive Branch (Miss.) for his senior season.

As a senior, Collins played a much larger role as he logged 45 tackles, picked off three passes and broke up 11 more. He also fared well in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game in December.

There was some speculation that Collins would flip to either Ole Miss or Mississippi State late in the process. However, he shrugged that off and stayed solid to the Tigers throughout his recruitment.

LSU Career: After spending his true freshman season on the scout squad, Collins saw extensive action in 2012.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder was the Tigers’ third cornerback behind Tharold Simon and Mills. He got a lot of reps manning the corner spot opposite of Simon when LSU went to its nickel and dime packages.

The results were mixed as he picked off a couple of passes and broke up six more with 30 tackles.

Collins’ interceptions were big as his first one helped set up LSU’s first touchdown against Texas A&M when the Tigers were trailing 12-0 with 4:22 left in the first half. His pick against Ole Miss also set up a score for the Tigers.

But, if Tiger fans have a fond memory of Collins against the Rebels it’s for his block that helped spring Odell Beckham on his 89-yard punt return that tied the game in the fourth quarter.

What we expect to see in 2013: What Tiger fans hope they do not see from Collins in 2013 is the busted assignments and poor angles he took late in the season that led to touchdowns against Ole Miss, Arkansas and Clemson.

Those types of plays were to be expected from a young corner as he learned on the job. And it’s not like it was his entire fault as LSU could not muster a consistent pass rush against the Rebels or Razorbacks, and the safeties had their share of busted assignments too.

Now that he is a year older and has added some weight to his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, more will be expected from Collins.

Sources say he had a solid, but not spectacular, spring up until a minor arm injury forced him out late in camp and kept him out of the spring game.

Collins wasn’t pushed like he will be when fall camp rolls around as Tre’davious White has reportedly lived up to his five-star billing during summer workouts.

Whether or not Collins can maintain a hold on his starting corner spot remains to be seen. White will play a lot of ball for the Tigers in 2013, and I see him taking the same course Patrick Peterson took as a true freshman back in 2008.

Like Collins, Jai Eugene, who was also a sophomore, had a leg up in the experience department. But as the ’08 campaign went along, Peterson emerged with a breakout performance against Alabama. The following week he was in the starting lineup and stayed there for the remainder of his career at LSU.

LSU will need Collins in 2013 as he has proven that he can play at the SEC level. There is no question about that.

The question is what will his role be once the true freshmen cornerbacks get tossed into the mix?

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