With an already rich-filled background of sibling Bearkat student-athletes, Sam Houston State University added two more on National Signing Day when twin defensive backs Zyon and Tristin McCollum signed their national letter of intent to join the Bearkat football family.
“When I went on the visit it just really felt like home,” Zyon McCollum said. “I kind of already had a feeling that I was ready to go there, but after the visit I definitely knew. Me and my brother, my twin, we just kind of looked at each other and just knew that this was going to be our home.”
The McCollum twins are a part of the 2017 recruiting class. The class consisted of 22 players, 18 of which are freshman and four transfers.
“This is the best class I’ve ever been involved with,” Keeler said. “Zyon can play corner or safety, but he could grow into being a buck linebacker that’s kind of the frame he has. His brother Tristin was projected as the 10 ranked commit in the Southland Conference.”
However, the road to Huntsville was not a straight shot.
Both Zyon and Tristin McCollum had received around eight offers from the same universities. The two siblings had offers from schools such as: Tulane, Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian and Lamar, but the McCollum twins decided to verbally commit to the University of Utah of the Pac-12 Conference.
“We never really had any plans of separating,” Zyon McCollum said. “We kind of just figured that we would always be together and so through the recruiting process we learned that it might not be able to happen.”
The two players from Galveston Ball High School were set to start their collegiate career 1,526 miles away from home in Salt Lake City, UT with the Utah Utes.
Although a verbal commit means nothing in stone, the McCollum brothers changed their minds after some rethinking.
“Utah is very far away and we knew that staying in Texas would be a huge plus,” Tristin McCollum said. “The way that the teams and coaches treated us played a huge factor in our decision. Sam Houston really, really wanted us and we ultimately wanted to go to a team that was feeling us the most.”
Zyon McCollum said that proximity to home played a huge factor in the twins’ decision to decommit from Utah and join the Bearkat family.
“Being one of the biggest factors was being close to home,” Zyon McCollum said. “Just realizing that our mom and our family probably won’t be able to come see us play was a big factor. Sam Houston State is a school that we’ve always been kind of a part of. We’re already familiar with the town, so we figured maybe it was meant to be.”
Talks between the Bearkats and Zyon and Tristin McCollum started heating up after the two attended an SHSU prospect camp. Zyon McCollum, who was ranked the No. 37 cornerback in Texas by Lone Star Prospects at the time, ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and a 4.03 in the shuttle run.
“The camp was nerve-wracking because we knew the schools that have been contacting us were going to be there so we knew we had to come out and perform,” Zyon McCollum said. “I like being nervous though because it gets the adrenaline pumping and I feel like I play better.”
Like Zyon McCollum, Lone Star Prospects also ranked Tristin McCollum in the top 50 cornerbacks in Texas. Tristin was ranked No. 40 and was listed as a two-star recruit by 247Sports.com. The twin showcased his speed at the SHSU prospect camp, clocking a 3.9 shuttle run.
“When I attended the camp I learned that the coaches were great and I love the way they treat their kids,” Tristin McCollum said. “The campus was beautiful and it’s growing, which is always good. It seems like a very good place to spend the next couple years of my life.”
Two hours after the camp ended, the McCollum twins received scholarship offers to join SHSU and become a part of one of the winningest football programs in recent history.
“We were really comfortable and smooth during the drills at the one-day camp,” Zyon McCollum said. “The coaches taught us some technique and it just allowed us to play fast and physical. We want to be coached up to the best of our abilities and Coach McGraw was really good for us at that camp, which led to us committing.”
Size and length, with the combination of speed and quickness, is every coach’s dream when it comes to the cornerback position. Both McCollum brothers are listed at 6-foot-2-inches and hover around 176 lbs. Cornerbacks coach Gary McGraw saw a lot of upside from the twins at the camp.
“The number one thing they’re going to bring to the field is length,” McGraw said. “They’re both really long kids and both of them have great change in direction. They’re both also very smart kids and they pick up things fast. They could be like Richard Sherman type players.”
Zyon and Tristin have been playing football together since the seventh grade and the McCollum legacy will live on at the collegiate level with the Bearkats.
“When we’re on the field together and we’re making calls to the defense,” Zyon McCollum said. “It is the best feeling just looking over at him and knowing that he has my back and I have his.”