"I see it as a tryout," said McCollum, the 2013 DE/LB from Dublin Coffman (OH) HS. "It's going to be a really important day, I need to go out there and show them what I can do."
If his workout regimen is any indication, McCollum will be more than ready for his de-facto "tryout". The rising junior lifts weights before school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he's back in the weight room, and he runs several miles after school. The weekend—what he calls his "off days"—offers no respite from his grueling training routine, as McCollum busies himself with strenuous garden work for his father's landscaping company. Some off day.
One thing is for sure: if NU doesn't offer, a lack of work ethic won't be to blame.
"Every time I'm doing all these workouts, I'm thinking about it [the minicamp]," he said. "I need to be at my best. It's a huge opportunity for me."
NU recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Matt MacPherson visited McCollum at his high school in January. He has since drawn interest from several schools, including Indiana, Ohio, Miami (OH), Toledo, Kentucky and Ohio State, among others.
"It's nice to get looks from all of these schools," he said. "But it's tough because I don't have any offers yet."
McCollum made his first campus visit on April 14, when the Wildcats held their last spring practice. He sat in on a defensive lineman's position meeting with DL coach Marty Long. McCollum left impressed with the upbeat, no-nonsense attitude at practice.
"Everything was done so quickly, so fast," he said. "Everybody knew what was going on. There was a lot of good energy, and you could tell there was some great competitive spirit out there."
While defensive end is his position of choice and his likely position in college, McCollum has lined up all over the field for Dublin Coffman, including fullback, tight end, linebacker, and defensive tackle.
The 6-3, 235-lb junior will attempt to put on at least five pounds before the start of his senior season in the hopes of becoming a more versatile defender at the next level.
"Gaining weight and doing it the right way isn't so easy," he said. "But it's definitely going to help me. I want to be able to show coaches that I'm big enough and strong enough to put my hand in the ground."
McCollum is yet to compile a list of top schools. There is one, however, that he believes to be the perfect fit, so perfect that—were he to receive an offer—he would say yes.
"It's a perfect fit, both academically and athletically," he said. "I just got a great feeling from the place when I was there [NU]. I can definitely see myself spending four years there."