“I got to know Geoff personally during my time at Alabama and have stayed in touch with him since and his defenses have been successful everywhere he has been,” McElwain said. "It was important to maintain some of the same philosophies and concepts that have made the defenses around here successful with this hire and our players will continue to progress under his direction.
"Coach Durkin will continue to coach the team through the bowl game,'' McElwain added. "I have the utmost respect for his professionalism and have full confidence in his abilities to lead and coach the team.”
Collins has spent the last two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Mississippi State. From 2011-12, Collins served as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
This season, Collins’ defense ranks 10th in FBS with 19.4 points allowed. The unit is 25th in rush defense (126.5) and 125th in pass defense (285.2).
The 43-year-old has plenty of experience in the state of Florida. He served as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for UCF from 2008-09. In 2010, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Florida International.
Collins, a native of Conyers, Ga., played linebacker and defensive back at Western Carolina before beginning his career as a student assistant for the program from 1993-94. He was the coach at Franklin (N.C) High School in 1995 before being named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Albright College from 1997-98. Collins then returned to his alma mater to serve as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2002-05.
Collins will take over a Florida defense with plenty of talent. All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III has one more season before he can leave for the NFL and the Gators developed plenty of young players behind him in 2014. Replacing All-SEC defensive end Dante Fowler will be a chore, but the Gators have recruited the defensive line well in recent years. Linebacker is thin with only two returners that have experience, and the position needs to be addressed before signing day.
There’s no word on whether Collins will stay with the Bulldogs through their appearance in the Orange Bowl on December 31 against Georgia Tech.