Players of the Pine Belt: Collins' Tavarian McCullum

Players of the Pine Belt: Collins' Tavarian McCullum

COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - "They see it," said second-year Collins head coach Eric Booth. "They see the progress that we've been going through about me staying on them about doing the right thing. So, that's the main thing. I got my kids believing in what we're gonna do."

Entering his second season with the reins of Collins football, former Bassfield and Southern Miss running back Eric Booth hopes 2017 is a smoother ride.

The Tigers' 2-9 season was a shock following the program's state back-to-back state tiles in 2014 and 2015.

"I didn't know it was going to happen like that," said Collins senior wide receiver Tavarian McCullum. "We really thought it was going to be easy but we had to learn the hard way."

"Y'all lost 25 seniors," Booth said. "Hey, we got to build. We got to build. Our work ethic, we got to come in and work because nothing's going to be given to us."

That's been the mantra for Collins this summer. The Tigers are still young, starting a sophomore quarterback. But with seniors like McCullum and a leader in coach Booth, Collins has a better understanding of what needs to be done.

"We weren't really used to somebody being hard on us but after we got used to [Booth] we started to work harder and understand that nothing comes easy," McCullum said.

"And I tell them all the time, 'Y'all think it's easy right now?'" Booth said. "'You think it's easy right now well you wait 'til you go to college and a man has to tell you want time you have to be up, what time you have to come work out and all that. This what you got to do. If you want to go to the next level, this what you got to do.'"

Senior wide receiver Tavarian McCullum is one of those Collins Tigers with hopes of making it to the next level.

At 6-foot-3 with a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, McCullum models his game after pro baller A.J. Green. With spring offers from Jones County Junior College, Pearl River Community College and Alcorn State already on the table, McCullum knows how important his senior year is.

"It really makes me work harder because if they see something in me then I know that I can do what they think I can do," McCullum said.

"Last year, [McCullum] caught some good passes and he dropped a lot," Booth said. "And I stayed on to him. I said, 'Hey, you're 6-foot-3, you've got to make the plays. A man 5-foot-2 can't cover you.' And I stayed on him, you know he got down on himself. 'No, you'll be alright. It just takes time.' This year, I'm looking for big things from him."