The Colony senior linebacker Stephen McCollom and his older brother, Jack, have always picked each other’s brains about the game of football.
Stephen and Jack were constantly exchanging tips on how they can improve their game.
Leadership was one of the most discussed topics. Lead by example. Hold your teammates accountable.
Although the two siblings played different positions – Jack was a guard on the offensive line while Stephen has spent time at fullback, linebacker and defensive end – they're students of the game as a whole.
Everything came to fruition two years ago.
Stephen began his sophomore season playing for The Colony's junior varsity game -- Jack was a senior guard for the Cougar varsity squad -- but it didn't take long for head coach Rudy Rangel and his staff to realize that there was potential written all over the young defensive end.
The morning after he recorded three sacks in the team's season opener against North Crowley, Stephen received a phone call from his coaches. He was promoted to The Colony's varsity team.
Stephen broke the news to Jack.
“I just told him and he was really excited and he ready to see me play and be on the same team for the first time in our lives,” he said.
The 2018 season was a rewarding one for the McCollom siblings. Both Jack and Stephen were named to the District 5-5A-Div. 1 second team. Stephen finished the season with four sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 34 total tackles.
Jack graduated the following spring.
That meant it was Stephen's turn to carry the family torch on Friday nights during the fall football season.
Stephen has only got better. As a junior, he earned a spot on the all-district first team after he recorded 17 tackles for loss, 42 total tackles, eight sacks, five quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.
Jack is one of several Cougars who Stephen has looked to over the years for leadership and guidance -- a list that also includes former quarterback Jemel Jones, Jr., a sophomore at Army, and standout running back Bryan Hammond, who went on to play for Navy.
"I looked up to (Hammond) a lot,” Stephen said. “He was a really good running back when he played. Jemel played quarterback and I looked at his leadership and the way he did things. It definitely helped out a lot."
McCollom said that he prefers a quarterback sack over making a tackle – albeit ever so slightly.
Overall, he cares about helping the team in any way possible, and he'll do so in a different role this season.
McCollom has been moved from defensive end to inside linebacker as the result of The Colony switching from a 4-2 base defensive scheme to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Anthony King. King was promoted to his new role after serving as safeties coach.
McCollom fills a hole that had been vacated by alum Jose Escobedo.
Playing alongside McCollum at linebacker will be senior Kyle Taylor, who returns to The Colony after playing last season for John Paul II – and the Cougars will also have experience in the secondary with senior Lawrence Smith and junior Shafiq Taylor.
"The personnel we had those years, defensive end fit me better,” McCollom said. “I liked it, really enjoyed that position a lot. But, coming into this year, since we're switching to a new defense and having a lot of new coaches and kids, they thought that Mike linebacker would be better for me. I'm enjoying it a lot."
In addition to playing inside linebacker, he will also see playing time on offense at fullback.
The Colony have some holes to fill after it lost several key players from last year’s playoff team to graduation – wide receiver Myles Price (Texas Tech), wide-outs Christian Gonzalez (Colorado) and Keith Miller III (Colorado), quarterback Mikey Harrington (Oklahoma Baptist University), defensive lineman Marcus Moore (Louisiana-Monroe), Dom Puentes (Evangel University) and Escobedo – but McCollom believes that the Cougars possess the talent to overcome those key departures.
"We did lose some good people and they are good players and leaders, but I don't think that matters right now,” he said. “We have new coaches, a new scheme. Everybody is ready to go, eager to get on the field. We have some good talent and have some players that can ball."
McCollom is also thinking about his future.
The Colony assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Brandon Grady has been hard at work on the recruiting trail for McCollom and will be until his standout linebacker finds the perfect place to call home for college.
For now, McCollom is focused on helping the Cougars to extend their school record of consecutive playoff appearances to eight years in a row.
The Colony is scheduled to host Mesquite Poteet for a preseason scrimmage on Sept. 17 and will kick off the regular season eight days later on Sept. 25 at Corsicana.
"It can't come faster,” McCollom said. “We've been putting in a lot of work and trying really hard to be ready when that time comes. I'm ready to play and I can't wait."