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Chris Collins - Football - University of Kentucky Athletics



Chris Collins enters his fourth season as the defensive backs coach at the University of Kentucky football but his first as the co-defensive coordinator after being promoted in 2024.

Through his three seasons in Lexington, Collins has coached an accomplished group of defensive backs, including current NFL players in Carrington Valentine (Green Bay Packers) and Keidron Smith (Denver Broncos). Valentine was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in 2023, declaring after a stellar junior season. He totaled 48 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and led UK and ranked ninth in the Southeastern Conference in passes defended with 11 (10 PBU and one INT). In his lone season at Kentucky after transferring from Ole Miss, Smith earned Second Team All-SEC honors after totaling 46 tackles, five PBU, a team-high-tying two interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.

In 2023 under Collins’ tutelage, sophomore defensive back Maxwell Hairston led the SEC and ranked fifth nationally in interceptions with five, earning Second Team All-SEC and honorable mention All-America honors. He added 68 tackles (third on the team), along with a team-high six pass breakups and a forced fumble. Junior Andru Phillips also shined under Collins as he charted 47 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and five pass breakups. Phillips declared for the NFL Draft following the 2023 season and went on to earn an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.

In Collins’ three seasons, the UK defense has finished fourth (2021), second (2022) and seventh (2023) in the Southeastern Conference in total defense. In 2022, the Cats finished 11th in the nation in total defense, allowing opponents to just 311.4 yards per game in 2022. Kentucky also ranked third in the SEC and 13th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up on average 19.2 points per game, a testament to the defensive back unit.

Collins came to Kentucky after four seasons (2017-20) as the safeties coach at Georgia State, helping the Panthers advance to a bowl game in three of his four seasons.

In his first year at GSU in 2017, he helped coach a defensive unit that set the school’s season record for fewest points allowed per game (24.75), while tutoring All-Sun Belt Conference safety Bryan Williams, who tied the school record for interceptions in a season with four. The Panthers finished 7-5 overall with a 27-17 win over Western Kentucky in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

In 2019, the Panthers again went 7-5 overall with an appearance in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
Along with coaching the safeties, he also took on the added responsibility of recruiting coordinator, helping GSU sign a 2020 recruiting class that had the highest average player ranking in program history, according to 247Sports.

Despite the challenges of navigating a season during COVID-19, Collins helped lead the Panthers to a 6-4 overall record which included a 39-21 win over Western Kentucky in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl. Redshirt freshman safety Antavious Lane tied the school record for interceptions in a season with four in just eight games played. Lane went on to earn second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors and was a member of the Associated Press All-Bowl team after totaling five tackles and an interception, the first pick thrown by WKU QB Tyrell Pigrome all season after 278 attempts. He helped the GSU defense allow just 284 total yards in the game.

Before Georgia State, Collins coached the linebackers at his alma mater, Western Carolina, in 2016. He was an integral part in helping Tyson Dickson earn second-team All-Southern Conference honors by the league’s head coaches with 86 tackles.

He spent the 2015 season as a defensive graduate assistant coach at Appalachian State, helping the Mountaineers to an 11-2 record and a victory over Ohio in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. He worked closely with all-conference linebacker Devan Stringer.

From 2013-14, he served as the secondary coach and special teams coordinator at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, while also serving as the academic coordinator for the NCAA Division II program. At Catawba, Collins coached All-America defensive back L.J. McCray, who went on to play three seasons in the NFL after signing as a free agent, as well as two all-conference selections in defensive back Mark McDaniel and punter Caleb Berry.

Collins, 35, was a four-year letter winner and two-year captain as a safety and outside linebacker at Western Carolina from 2006-09. He recorded 303 tackles during his collegiate career, including 109 as a senior in 2009, when he earned second-team All-Southern Conference recognition. He finished his career with 19 tackles for loss (including 12.5 as a senior), nine forced fumbles (including a SoCon-best six as a junior) and five pass breakups.

A three-time member of the SoCon’s academic honor roll, Collins graduated from Western Carolina in 2010 with a degree in construction management and a minor in business administration.

Following the conclusion of his playing career, he spent three seasons on WCU’s coaching staff, first as a student assistant in 2010 and as a defensive assistant in 2011-12, working primarily with the Catamounts’ linebackers and defensive backs. In 2010, he helped tutor freshman defensive back Randy Pressely, who was named to the SoCon Coaches’ All-Freshman Team.

The High Point, North Carolina native, graduated from T.W. Andrews High School. He is married to the former Kiara Crutchfield of Greensboro, N.C. The couple has one son, Christopher Collins III.

Collins’ Coaching Career:

Year Position School Bowl Games
2021-Pres. Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Kentucky Vrbo Citrus Bowl (2021), TransPerfect Music City Bowl (2022), TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (2023)
2019-20 Assistant Safeties Coach / Recruiting Coordinator Georgia State Lending Tree Bowl (2020), Arizona Bowl (2019)
2017-18 Assistant Safeties Coach Georgia State Cure Bowl (2017)
2016 Assistant Linebackers Coach Western Carolina
2015 Defensive Graduate Assistant Appalachian State Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
2013-14 Secondary / Special Teams Coordinator Catawba
2011-12 Defensive Assistant Western Carolina
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