By Patrick Cochran
This last year has brought a whirlwind of change to City College football, most notably the retirement of long-time coach George Rush, and the promotion of his replacement Jimmy Collins.
Collins, only 29 years old, is now at the helm of one of America’s premier junior college football programs, one that hopes to redeem themselves after a difficult loss in the state championship game last year.
Despite this being his first year as a head coach, Collins is confident that he and his staff will be up to the task.
“I played for this staff, and I know they are the most experienced and talented staff in all of (junior college). They can coach this group of kids and help them improve not only on the field but also in the classroom,” Collins said.
Collins played football for the Rams in 2004-05 after having a successful high school career at Marin Catholic.
During his sophomore season Collins served as the starting quarterback and finished his college football playing career at Portland State.
Before being promoted to head coach Collins served as the Rams quarterback coach, and was in charge of play calling.
“Jimmy has all the qualities to be a great coach,”City College Athletic Director and offensive coordinator Dan Hayes said. “(Collins) has great personal and professional attributes. He cares about his staff, players and City College. This is his dream job. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was here for decades,” Hayes said.
His experience with the quarterback position will be extra important this season as the Rams, who are currently in preseason training camp, are having to decide who starts at quarterback, the most important position on the field.
The three candidates are redshirt freshman Zach Masoli, younger brother of former Rams/University of Oregon star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, Anthony Gordon and Lavell McCullers.
“All three of them are good prospects and are trying to learn,” Collins said.
When asked about Mosoli’s ability compared to his star older brother, Collins said, “Zach is his own guy, but he has tools and wants to be a great QB. He is in a great place to learn.”
Collins was also very fond of Anthony Gordon.
“He is a great pocket passer and has the composure you need for that position,” Collins said.
The strongest area for the Rams might be the offensive line where they return two of five starters.
A monstrous player who originally hails from Nigeria, Sophomore guard Oge Udeogu said that he and his linemates are ready to go.
“We have guys that will go (to) Division 1 and some great young guys,” Udeogu said. “AJ McMullen is great, the real deal.”
Udeogu even spoke fondly of his teammates on the other side of the ball, despite the fact they have spent the last few weeks hitting each other.
“Khalil Hodge, a linebacker is really talented, has good speed, and should be a beast,” Udeogu said.
Coach Collins thinks that Hodge and the rest of the defense will be up to City College quality.
Rams teams under coach Rush typically featured stifling defenses manned by Division 1 transfers, and this year looks to be no different.
“Khalil, Deante (Fortenberry a cornerback), and the rest look good. So far in practice they have showed to me and the staff that the defense will be no different than past years,” Collins said
While questions linger about the Rams, the players and staff are confident that they can keep up the winning tradition alive.
Contact a reporter
Send an email to: Patrick Cochran