Lavarius McCollough is one of the best players from the Tampa, FL area in the Class of 2024.
The 5-foot-5, 185 pound McCollough, who attends Williams Middle Magnet School, is a physically imposing player that does his work on the offensive and defensive line for the Fair Oaks Rattlers.
McCollough first started playing football for the Jackson Heights Vikings at the age of six but after that has been with the Rattlers ever since.
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McCollough additionally made the 6th grade FBU Tampa team and the 6th grade FSG team as a 5th grader.
McCollough is very appreciate of the opportunities to participate in those all-star showcases as a means to display his skills.
McCollough is hungry to prove to the world all that he is capable of.
“It was awesome because I got to play against some of the best people in my age group,” McCollough said.
“It is not about being the best around. It is about being the best period.”
McCollough enjoys the camaraderie and competitive nature of the game of football.
“I love the contact and having fun with my friends,” McCollough said. “Since I am very competitive I like that part about it also.”
McCollough’s work ethic in his life is aided greatly by the way he grinds on the gridiron.
“Everything is not given to you,” McCollough said. “Nothing is given to you. You must earn it.”
Jeremy Johnson has coached McCollough for two years now with the Rattlers.
He explains the best parts of McCollough’s game on both sides of the ball.
“Well on offense he was one of the best blocking 9-10 years olds in the state of Florida. He’s a rare combination of IQ and power. On defense let’s just say he anchored a defense that gave up 44 points in two years. Defensively, Lavarius demands a double team. If you don’t double team him well let’s just say he will blow up the play,” Johnson said. “On offense his technique is as good as it gets. His man usually is running away so that should tell you a lot. Defensively his get off technique is like no other. He uses his hands well and has the instinct to take him far on any level he will play on.”
McCollough takes on an active leadership role for his teammates on a daily basis through being the consummate professional.
McCollough is always searching for the bright side and being that ray of optimism to cheer up his teammates.
“Building a positive relationship with them, being dependable and consistent on the field and being someone they can trust,” McCollough said. “I always encourage them and tell them to never give up.”
McCollough will speak up when he needs to, but Johnson says that the athlete is more of a follow-me type of leader through his actions.
“He leads with his play and he talks the talk and walks the walk point blank period,” Johnson said. “Lavarius is a special child on the gridiron.”
McCollough is one of the most clutch players on the Rattlers, as he’s made many key plays in crunch time to help the team pull out victories.
Johnson gives a compelling example to illustrate that point.
“Well last year in the Super Bowl for example against the Sebring Blue Streaks, they had the ball on the 1 yard line. He blew up two of those four plays to complete our first goose egg,” Johnson said. “And as a 9-year-old against Largo in 2015 Lavarius had 5 sacks. Largo was one of the best teams in mid Florida that year.”
McCollough’s father Ramon is a steadying presence in the athlete’s life to stay on track.
“Well my dad trains me all the time. He has been training me since i was 6. He makes me and my little brother do push ups every night to make us stronger,” McCollough said. “He tells me to always work hard and keep my grades up because without both I can’t make it where I want to go.”
Johnson says that McCollough’s work ethic comes both within and comes in handy due to the rigors of a Rattlers practice.
“His work ethic is excellent,” Johnson said. “He’s always putting in work home and on the field with his father. Lavarius has been pushed to his limits many times. We practice hard and fast.”
McCollough’s mindset on defense is “to explode through the line and get the quarterback before he can back out and hand the ball off.”
In addition to being strong, McCollough’s mind is powerful as well with a vast football IQ.
“Well Lavarius plays the 3 technique on defense so he’s over the ball. He has a move where he jumps the snap. It’s a timing thing and to tell you the truth it’s a beautiful thing when he is rolling,” Johnson said. “Offensively he’s able to diagnose the blitz and able to make adjustments on the line which is rare for an 11-year-old.”
Johnson outlines the next areas of improvement for McCollough’s game.
“Well as of now offensively it’s his lateral movement. He has good feet but he’s growing so fast,” Johnson said. “Defensively just making sure to stay on his feet and keep his gap responsibility.”
Johnson has some lofty comparisons on both sides of the ball for McCollough.
“Offensively he’s a brute so let’s say Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins,” Johnson said. “Defensively he’s like Geno Atkins. With his power, speed and IQ all day he just really demands a double team.”
Meanwhile, McCollough admires the play of the Houston Texans’ face of the franchise.
“JJ Watt because he dominates the game on a pro level like I hope to do one day,” McCollough said.
McCollough lists math as his favorite subject.
McCollough wants to be the next great lineman at the University of Alabama.
“Because they produce first round linemen and they constantly go to the national championship,” McCollough said.
Johnson has no doubt that McCollough is destined for greatness.
“Well I think Lavarius has the potential to be an NFL player. My reasons are simple. He loves the sport of football,” McCollough said. “He’s a rare kid that has very special talent. He has that ‘It’ factor.”
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