Collins readies for bigger role

Les Miles entered fall practice looking to replace cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Brandon Taylor. On Friday, the Tigers' head man was forced to make the tough decision to dismiss all-everything defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The Tigers defense will now have to replace three starters in the secondary from a season ago. The newest face in the mix is redshirt freshman Jalen Collins.

"The first couple of days of camp I was rusty," said Collins. "Now that we're back in the swing of things and back in pads, I am just working hard and getting better.

"Things are looking pretty good right now."

Collins reports that he has been mentored by several of the Tigers' talented veterans over the course of the last year.

The former Olive Branch, Mississippi standout believes he has benefited from the instruction of players who have faced the fire in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

"The older guys and Tharold Simon have helped me out a lot," said Collins. "I have gained about 30 pounds since last summer, so I know I am a lot stronger too.

"I have listened to what all of the older guys have had to say and it's made me a better player."

Now more mentally and physically mature, Collins is ready to step onto the playing field and make his contribution.

"I am going out everyday with the mindset to get better," said Collins. "I am just trying to focus on what I can do to help the team.

"As a group, we all have the mindset that nobody can beat us.

"We want to be #1, so we're going to come out and work hard everyday.

"We know that everybody else is working hard to come out and beat us, so we have to do our part to outwork everybody."

Collins was expected to be the third cornerback this fall, but it appears that the time has come for him to handle the starting responsibilities opposite Tharold Simon.

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