The 2012 Phil Steele All-American will join Bill Belichick‘s squad which finished with the AFC East Crown last season and a 12-4 regular season record. He becomes the eighth Golden Eagle to be selected in the second round and first since Todd Pinkston went to the Philadelphia Eagles in that round in 2000. Collins was the No. 52 overall selection.
Last season, the McCall Creek, Miss., native earned Conference USA first-team honors and led the team in tackles with 92 and also ranked first in C-USA in tackles for loss (20.0) and third in sacks (10.0), which both rank fifth on the school's single-season chart. His tackles for loss number ranked No. 7 in the country, while his sack total was 21st nationally.
The Golden Eagle defensive end forced four fumbles during the campaign, which ranks tied for 3rd on the school's single-season chart and holds a 5th-place tie on the school's career chart with seven fumbles forced with Rod Davis (2000-03). It was the 3rd consecutive season a Golden Eagle has forced four fumbles.
He posted three double-digit tackle performances during the year including a season-high 13 against Nebraska and 10 versus Boise State. For his career, Collins finished with 45 tackles for loss and 21 sacks, a mark that puts him at fifth all-time in the school's career charts.
After converting from a safety his freshman season to a linebacker his sophomore season before finally putting his hand on the ground as a rush end his junior and senior campaigns, Collins had one of the more dominant careers in Southern Miss history.
The NFL regular season begins Sept. 5, with the Patriots beginning their season on Sept. 8 when they take on the Buffalo Bills.