Get to know the future of Football – Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State

Interview with Zyon McCollum

Cornerback, #22, Sam Houston State Bearkats

Twitter: @Zyon_McCollum

  • Played for Ball High School in Galveston, Texas
  • Earned 2015 and 2016 District 23-5A All-District Second Team honors
  • Named team captain, team MVP, unanimous all-county selection
  • Ranked a 3-star recruit by 247 Sports Composite and as #37 cornerback in Texas by Lone Star Prospects

  • All-Southland Conference First Team selection (2018 & 2020/21)
  • All-Southland Conference Second Team selection (2019)
  • AFCA All-America Second Team (2020/21)
  • 44 career games, 40 starts, 155 tackles, 106 solos, 8 TFLs, 1½ sacks, 10 INTs, 46 PBUs, and 6 forced fumbles
  • 2020/21 Spring Season FBS National Champion


Who introduced you to the game of football?

My mom. She pushed us to try lots of sports at a young age: track, basketball, baseball, and swimming. We even tried tennis for a period of time, but football is the sport we fell in love with despite our dad playing in the NBA for a bit. It’s been stuck since the flag football days.


Why did you choose Sam Houston State to further your football career?

My brother and I had already decided, going into the recruiting process, that we were going to be attending a school where we could play alongside each other. Sam Houston was actually the first school to see that potential in both of us and, when they offered first, a lot of other schools offered as well.

Sam stayed persistent in that entire storm, so we knew that we could make a quick difference on a team if they wanted us that much. Along with that, on our visit, we could just tell the culture they had there was different. Everyone is treated like family whether you’re committing there or not, and a winning mentality with a strong culture can blossom a ton of opportunity.


How has it been to play on the same team as your brother?

I really can’t even spit it into words. If I could replay the memories I have on a projector, I would watch that movie time and time again. I love playing with him. We have great communication — it’s effortless — and when I can communicate what’s going on and become able to develop a plan pre-snap with him, we’re able to perform our jobs with that much more precision. 


How does it feel to be crowned a National Champion?

Man, this is why we play. Why we kill ourselves in the off-season and drown ourselves in the film room — for the feelings and emotions my team and I were able to experience at the end of that game. It makes me feel grateful more than anything else. I’m so proud of everyone because it takes everyone on and off the field to create something like this.



With the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, will you be returning for another season with Sam Houston State?

Yes, I will have another year to get better and develop my skills and traits while chasing a championship at the same time. To spend time with people I consider family, strengthening the culture we built here at Sam, and teaching/guiding the young guys into living up to the standard we all have set, as well as chasing their own dreams and aspirations. 


In what way has Covid-19 impacted your everyday life the most?

It hasn’t impacted too much. I don’t mind wearing a mask everywhere or complying with small things like that. I’d say as a team, we haven’t been able to have large gatherings due to the possibility of breaking our bubble. So only hanging around those under the same roof as myself outside of being on the field or in class has been the biggest.


What has been the biggest difference between playing games in the spring instead of the fall, due to Covid-19?

The biggest difference has been having limited fans and the weather. Fans have a larger impact on the game than they may think in terms of maintaining momentum as well as taking it. Every moment the opposing team is more concerned with our student section or our fans’ chants, is a moment they aren’t concerned with the game, which we can take advantage of.

Limited fans mellowed our numbers a bit during the regular season — we’d love to pack out the stands every home game! The weather was a big one too. Having to go through that postseason Texas heat had an effect on a lot of Northern teams we played. Most people aren’t quite used to 85 degrees and sunny in the playoffs, not to mention the humidity to go along with it.


What’s the one thing you need to improve most about your game?

Off-coverage is something I am working to fine-tune this offseason. I play with a combination of techniques when off, depending on situational football, but I’m going to look to place one technique in particular under the magnifying glass.


What’s the strongest part of your game?

Hard to say. I feel extremely comfortable on the outside in press coverage, but I’d say the strongest part of my game is the mental side. Recognizing trends in the offensive coordinator’s play calling can be done by focusing on the formation (especially splits), motion, and QB signal calling. I’d say this is the strongest part of my game because it allows me to set up a plan before each snap that matches perfectly with what the defense is trying to accomplish



What’s your favorite song of all time?

I couldn’t even tell you! My ears change like the weather. I have new favorite songs every week.


What would you do career-wise, if you didn’t play football?

Coming from a teaching background, my mom being a High School teacher, Dad being a coach, and even my girlfriend is an elementary teacher, that’s where I find my passion. I’d become a coach. The influence that teachers and coaches are able to have on the youth guides success more than what meets the eye.


What one game would you recommend someone watch of your play?

The game against the University of the Incarnate Word of 2019 is a good one.


What one game would you like to replay and why?

The National Championship game vs SDSU. Based on how big of a game it was alone I would replay it. There are very few players in history that even get a chance to play in a game like that. I got very close my freshman year making it to the semifinal and lost. I thought we’d be back the next year to finish what we started, but we proceeded to miss the playoffs entirely the next two seasons. It showed me just how hard it is to reach a game like that one and taught me to cherish how far you’ve come because you never know when it will be the last.


Do you play fantasy football?

Oh yeah. Unfortunately, I’ve missed out on my bragging rights the last couple of years, but I’ll be looking to bounce back this season haha. Had a super team last year and the injury bug hit. My guys Dak and Julio will be back and better.


What NFL cornerback do you pattern your game after?

I really enjoy watching Jalen Ramsey. You have to have that swag to play on an island, and he plays with all the confidence in the world. A physical corner that can blanket receivers with his feet first.


What’s your favorite defensive play call and why?

This is tough, just because I’m such a situational player. I love blitzes on third down to get the ball out quick, but if I could only say one, I’d just say any single high. Allow me to play to my safety in the middle and protect the vertical on the outside while reacting down on everything else. The receiver may think he has you beat, but you’ve already anticipated him making the moves he has and adjusted position according to your teammates.


Do you believe in soulmates?

Definitely! I believe everyone in life has the potential to become friends if they are willing to drop differences and do the work to build up that bond. Soulmates, however, are a bit different. There isn’t much work at all to be done with your soulmate. Whether it’s a family member, friend, partner, or all three, if you can gaze into someone’s eyes as if you’d been staring into them for lifetimes, then that type of bond is one that just is.


What opposing player was the toughest for you to cover and why?

Nicholls’ DaJean Dixon has probably been the best I’ve covered. He has size and strength with a long stride which can be deceiving. His best attribute is the calm demeanor he plays with — he understands positioning well and is one of the few receivers who can release outside down the field and still run an inside route vs press-man.


Who is the one opposing player that you want to lay the wood on most and why?

I have to say Isaiah Davis of SDSU. Our defense prides itself in four main categories, and rush defense is at the top of that list. He’s a great player with a bright future so if we get a chance to play him again, he’s the guy we’re looking to hit and hit and hit some more.


If you had to tell an aspiring high school player what the hardest part of playing college ball is, what would it be and why?

Of course, there are obvious jumps from the gameplay itself like speed and size. I’d say that the most challenging is management. College is a completely different world than High School — you have a new freedom, which is an incredible experience. But with freedom also comes responsibility. New guys have to adapt to this new environment by managing themselves the right way.

They have to work towards balancing out their time, meetings, classwork, film study, practices, and still have time for their own personal lives dealing with relationships, family, and having fun with their new teammates. If they don’t manage themselves the correct way, it’s easy to become off-balance and fall over in the form of bad habits on or off the field. By managing themselves well and placing priorities in front, they will create a healthy foundation for success.


If you had to give any pointers, what would they be? 

Just be yourself. All the hard work you put in to get to this point is the same hard work that’s going to get you through it. You’ll have a full life for all the extra stuff college comes with, but you only get 4-5 years to play college ball. So seize the opportunity when it presents itself. Never fight your fears by oppressing them, rather fight them by focusing on courage.

Thanks for reading my article. If you enjoyed it, you can read more of my articles on my author page at IDP Guys. I am a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers of America). You can also follow me on Twitter at @HollywoodTitan, on Facebook on my IDPNation page, on Reddit in the fantasy football IDP sub — I’m user KingTitan1 — and you can tune in each week and listen to IDP Nation and Devy IDP Grind, the podcasts that I co-host, on several different platforms. Feel free to hit me up with any questions that you have, as I’m always glad to help fellow IDPers. #IDPNation #IDP #IDPDevy

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