Kelby Collins: Embracing change and rising to new challenges in sophomore year

by | Mar 26, 2024 | 0 comments

Kelby Collins

Florida Gators’ defensive lineman, Kelby Collins, is stepping into his sophomore year in a new position, guided by a new coach, Gerald Chatman. This transition comes after an impressive freshman year where Collins tallied 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble in 12 games.


After primarily working with the EDGE unit in his first year, Collins has been observed working with the interior defensive line unit this spring. “As of right now it’s long term, it’s just spring so you never really know,” Collins said on moving inside. “I’m open to anything, I have the confidence and the skill to know that wherever I move I’m going to do what I do.”

Collins believes his versatility will benefit the defensive front. Despite weighing 275 pounds in the spring, considered undersized for an interior defensive lineman, he didn’t gain any weight in the offseason. However, Collins has diligently improved his physique and skills, and he is confident this will yield results.

“I think I can bring versatility on the front, obviously being a smaller interior rusher, I can bring some speed, when we need to pass rush I can also go back outside to the five and still bring that physicality and speed that we may need if we put in a different package, stuff like that,” Collins discussed what he could contribute to the Gators this year. “Just being selfless and whatever the team needs I feel like I’m able to do.”

Austin Armstrong, Florida’s defensive coordinator, envisions a promising future for Collins in his new position. “I think Kelby can be as good as anybody in this conference,” Armstrong stated. “His position flex is really impressive. He’s tough. I think he’s brought a tremendous amount of urgency to that room. Kelby wants to win, and you talk to his family, they want to win, and they’re serious. And I respect him so much for the work he puts in. I’m excited to see, I don’t want to put any expectations on the guy. But I really think the guy can do something special.”

The Alabama native’s transition to the interior defensive line comes with a new position coach, Gerald Chatman, who was hired in the offseason. Chatman has been working with Collins for all five spring practices. The new coach’s intensity and high standards, according to Collins, have pushed him to practice harder and improve his game.

“Love coach Chatman,” Collins said. “Since he came in we talked, and he told me he’s going to coach me hard, and that’s something I appreciate. I want to be coached to the very best to be able to achieve what I want to achieve at the end of the day, and that’s something he does.”

Chatman’s approach to coaching has already left a lasting impact on the team, with his intensity and insistence on perfection being appreciated by the players. His coaching style has seemingly gained respect amongst the players, with Collins saying, “I know he’s going to hold me to the standard, he’s going to hold the group to the standard. And to play for him you can’t be weak, he’s going to get on you, and at the end of the day that’s just for our benefit, and as a unit we want to get better, and he’s helping us do that by being the way he is.”

In the hustle and bustle of the Florida practice field, one voice clearly stands out – that of Gerald Chatman. His approach is not just about correcting techniques but also about maintaining a high energy level and urgency.

This spring, the Gators have welcomed several new coaches to their staff. Their influence is already evident, as noted by Florida’s coach, Billy Napier. Austin Armstrong has also singled out one coach in particular who has significantly impacted the camp. Armstrong praises the contributions of Chatman, saying, “It takes a lot of toughness, physicality, technique to play that position and the urgency that he’s brought, he’s already made us better.” Chatman’s influence, it seems, is indeed making waves.

With the season ahead, Collins is keen to take everything he’s learning from Chatman and apply it to his game. His commitment to his new role and respect for his new coach sets an exciting stage for the upcoming season.

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