Why one of Alabama’s top targets is nicknamed ‘Tank’

Alabama-Alabama football-Alabama Crimson Tide-Jaylen McCollough

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — It all started when Alabama recruit Jaylen McCollough was around 3 years old. His father, Eriles, gave his son the nickname “Tank.”

“I was just bigger than everything and I would knock everything down, like a tank,” McCollough said. “I broke a lot of things in the house. I know I broke some picture frames and vases, so the nickname stuck with me.”

Since then, those who know McCollough well enough have called him Tank. While walking in the hallways of Hillgrove High School, two people who he came in contact with didn’t call him Jaylen. They called him Tank.

But when he’s on the field, the name Jaylen may not cause him to even look your way.

“When I’m on the field, people call me Tank. That’s it,” McCollough said. “I’m a physical player. That’s how I grew up playing. I have a great football IQ and that puts me ahead of the game, too.”

Alabama-Alabama football-Alabama recruiting-Jaylen McCollough
Jaylen “Tank” McCollough is one of the Tide’s top targets in the 2019 class. He estimated that he’s been to Tuscaloosa around 7 or 8 times. He’s even visited Tuscaloosa more than Athens, which is closer to his home. (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)

The nation’s No. 4 safety in the 2019 class always played an age group up when he was participating in youth football. When he was 4 years old, McCollough was playing with 5- and 6-year-old kids. That has helped him develop that football IQ he talks about.

It wasn’t that McCollough was the biggest kid growing up. His parents just decided that it would be best for their son to play better competition at an early age. McCollough said it helped him adjust to the speed of the game playing against kids who were older and sometimes bigger.

Because he was playing against better competition at an early age, McCollough developed into quite an athlete. Hillgrove coach Phillip Ironside said in the 10-plus years he’s been coaching at the school, only a handful have played as a freshman.

While most schools want him as a defensive back, it’s his play at running back that most resembles his nickname.

“Seeing his play with us, you can understand why that’s his nickname,” Ironside said. “He’s a very physical player. He’s a very physical running back, too. He refuses to get tackled, sometimes to a fault. He won’t quit in times where he could take care of his body a little better. It’s a fitting nickname.”

South Carolina and Michigan State have expressed interest in Tank as a running back. Alabama wants him primarily on defense. He prefers to play defense because he “would rather do the hitting like a tank instead of getting hit.”

Hillgrove will be in the spotlight this upcoming NFL draft as former defensive end Bradley Chubb is projected to be a top-5 pick. Chubb was back at Hillgrove the day after his performance at the NFL combine last month. Chubb will join New York Giants tight end Evan Ingram and Miami Dolphins and former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake as Hillgrove standouts to make it to the league.

Tank is hoping to be the next man up.

“I’m following in some big footsteps, but I’m going to continue to play my game and listen to the coaches,” he said. “I just need to do everything they say. That’s how the guys before me got there [to the NFL], and that’s how I plan on getting there.”

The post Why one of Alabama’s top targets is nicknamed ‘Tank’ appeared first on SEC Country.

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