January 12, 2011 2:43:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State has filled its final coaching vacancy with the hire of Geoff Collins as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Collins takes over a role served by former defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz, who left last week to coach become defensive coordinator at Texas.
Collins comes to MSU after a one-year stint as Florida International''s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He helped the Panthers to their first bowl win this season in a victory over Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Collins turned around an FIU defense that ranked 119th in the NCAA in 2009 to the Sun Belt Conference''s leader in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin.
"Geoff has shown the type of immediate impact he can bring to a defense by what he did at Florida International last season," head coach Dan Mullen said in a school release. "He''s a smart young coach that has great experience, and he''ll bring the same kind of aggressive attitude and philosophy that we expect from our defense at Mississippi State."
Collins spent the ''07-''08 seasons as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF.
Collins spent one season as recruiting coordinator at Alabama after a four-year stint as a defensive coach at his alma mater, Western Carliona.
He also was a graduate assistant under George O''Leary at Georgia Tech.
Collins will serve in a similar role to what current defensive coordinator Chris Wilson did last season, when Diaz called the plays but Wilson had an active role in game-planning.
Collins will have a clean slate at linebacker, where the team''s two leading tacklers and All-SEC players Chris White and K.J. Wright and Emmanuel Gatling were seniors.
Cam Lawrence, Michael Hunt and Brandon Wilson were the top three reserves at linebacker last season. All three will be juniors next season.
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