Saturday, June 20, 2020

77 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - Andy McCollum

It's now 77 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, September 5th, 2020 at 3 pm, against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, in Roy Kid Stadium, Richmond, KY. To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the football countdown each day until kickoff day.

There is no one currently assigned to #77 on the preseason roster, so we'll highlight assistant football coach Andy McCollum.

Andy McCollum

POSITION Assistant Coach / Defensive Coordinator / inside linebackers

A veteran defensive coach with nearly four decades of collegiate experience, Andy McCollum has been hired by Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir as the program's defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach. McCollum has been an assistant coach at five different NCAA Division I FBS programs and holds the distinction of being the first FBS – then NCAA D-IA – head coach at Middle Tennessee, a position he held for seven seasons.

McCollum most recently worked under WCU graduate Paul Johnson (1979) as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia Tech. He replaces Tripp Weaver who was elevated to the coordinator position before being lured back to his alma mater, ECU, in late January.

"We are extremely happy that Coach McCollum has joined our staff," said Speir on the addition to his defensive coaching staff. "He is a proven winner as a head coach, a defensive coordinator, a recruiting coordinator, and as a position coach. He is a positive, energetic and very knowledgeable coach who will bring a wealth of experience to our program and has incredible ties throughout the Southeast in recruiting. His drive and passion to coach, develop young men and build relationships will be valuable in moving our football program forward. We welcome Andy and his wife Debbie to the Catamount Family."

During his 10 years in Atlanta, McCollum coached a myriad of positions, leading the Yellow Jackets' defensive line for two-and-a-half years, before switching to linebackers midway through the 2012 season. He switched to Tech's safeties and nickel backs in 2016 before moving back to the Jackets' inside linebackers under new defensive coordinator Nate Woody in 2018. Tech's 2015 defense ranked sixth nationally in fewest first downs allowed and first in the nation in defensive improvement on third down, while the 2018 squad ranked fourth overall in total defense in the ACC.

While at Georgia Tech, McCollum coached three All-ACC honorees and two NFL draft picks. He has also coached the team's top tackler three times in a four-season span. The Yellow Jackets made seven bowl game appearances during his tenure on the sidelines including winning the 2014 Orange Bowl, finishing the season ranked sixth in the final poll. Tech also finished among the top two in the ACC's Coastal Division four times.

The program's recruiting coordinator from 2009-17, McCollum was twice listed as one of the top recruiters in the Atlantic Coast Conference by (2014 & 2018) and garnered a top 25 national recruiter ranking from the same online publication in '18. Six players he either recruited and/or coached at Georgia Tech went on to play in the NFL – three of which were drafted including Jeremiah Attaochu, who McCollum mentored on both the defensive line and at linebacker. Attaochu established a new school record for career sacks with 31.5 from 2010-13.

McCollum also recruited two-time Super Bowl champion, Shaq Mason, a 2015 fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots where he is currently starting at offensive guard. While at Georgia Tech, Mason was first-team All-ACC in 2013 and 2014, as well as a first-team All-America selection in 2014.

McCollum made the move to Atlanta after serving for three seasons (2007-09) as linebackers coach at NC State, where he was a part of head coach Tom O'Brien's initial coaching staff with the Wolfpack. While in Raleigh, McCollum helped guide the Wolfpack to the 2008 Bowl and coached four linebackers that were drafted and went on to play in the NFL — Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, Audie Cole, and Willie Young.

Prior to joining the ACC at NC State, McCollum served as the head coach at Middle Tennessee for seven seasons (1999-2005), helping the Blue Raiders make the transition from a struggling NCAA Division I-AA squad to a successful NCAA I-A program that competed against BCS opponents 26 times during his tenure. Middle Tennessee set 84 school records with McCollum at the helm.

In 2000, McCollum led the Blue Raiders to a 6-5 record in only their second season as an FBS program. The winning campaign included back-to-back wins over Connecticut and South Florida by a combined score of 111-19. A year later, he led Middle Tennessee to an 8-3 record and its first Sun Belt Conference championship.

His Blue Raider squads ranked among the nation's top 10 in both total offense (fifth in 2001) and total defense (ninth in 2005). McCollum also brought in the Sun Belt's top recruiting classes in 2002, 2004 and 2005, setting up the Blue Raiders to make their first bowl appearance the year after his departure. He was named Tennessee Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TWSA) in both 2000 and 2001.

The first 18 years of his coaching career was comprised of assistant roles at Middle Tennessee (1981-88), UTEP (1989-93) and Baylor (1994-98). Amidst that run was a three-month stint under Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee in the spring of 1995 before returning to Baylor where he served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Bears for two seasons (1995-96). Highlights included Baylor ranking among the top 10 nationally in total defense (fifth), pass defense (fifth) and scoring defense (ninth) with McCollum at the helm in 1995 and Middle Tennessee making two NCAA Division I FCS (then I-AA) playoff appearances with him on staff in 1984 and '85.

From 1994-98, McCollum worked at Baylor in a variety of roles. In 1995 and 1996 he served as associate head coach, defensive and special teams coordinator. In 1994, the Bears participated in the Alamo Bowl. In 1995, the Bear defense ranked fifth nationally in total defense, fifth in pass defense and ninth in scoring defense. He coached offense (wide receivers – 1989), defense (linebackers – 1990-93) and special teams (1989-93) during his five-year stint at UTEP.

In his lone year away from college coaching, he served as an advance scout for the NFL's Tennessee Titans in Nashville in 2006. He worked directly with then-head coach Jeff Fisher in scouting future opponents, breaking down personnel, schematics, and tendencies.

Before embarking on his coaching career, McCollum was a four-year starter (offensive guard and tight end) at Austin Peay State from 1977-80. He led the Governors in receptions as a junior in 1979 and was a freshman starter on APSU's 1977 Ohio Valley Conference championship team. He earned a bachelor's degree from Austin Peay in 1981 and a master's degree from Middle Tennessee State in 1983.

McCollum was born in Marietta, Ga., where he was a three-year starter at quarterback for coach Ray Broadway at Marietta High School. A four-sport athlete – football, basketball, baseball, and track – he collected third-team all-state plaudits and was named Cobb County Player of the Year in 1976 before being dubbed the North Georgia Athlete of the Year in 1977. McCollum was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2010.

He is married to the former Debbie Wrather and has two children, Drew and Andrea.


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