Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler and LSU left tackle La’El Collins are both expected to be first-round picks at this months’ draft. But while Fowler is regarded as the better NFL prospect, he admits that it was Collins who played better when they went head-to-head in college.
Fowler told TheMMQB.com that when the two went head-to-head in 2013, it was a mismatch: Collins beat the crap out of him.
“That’s a bloodbath right there, me and La’el,” Fowler said. “We are cool with each other; we are good friends. I keep in contact with him. At the end of the day, I feel like that’s going to be my rival for my whole career, because he’s going to make his name for himself and he’s going to be a great offensive tackle. I actually knew who he was coming out of high school. He was a year above me, and I remember he was [one of the top] tackles coming out of high school. From watching his highlight tape, I knew he was nasty. My sophomore year, we went to Baton Rouge and played against LSU, and I’m not going to lie, I got my butt whooped. That was one of my worst games just because of how I got tossed around.”
Fowler said that butt-whooping he took from Collins in 2013 motivated him to work harder than ever in 2014. He said their second meeting was a more even matchup.
“I spent the whole last summer getting ready for La’el, I ain’t going to lie to you,” Fowler said. “I knew I was going to run into some pretty decent tackles, but the main motivation was from him getting after me my sophomore year. I had it marked on my calendar the day after my sophomore game. That whole week leading up to the game, it felt like it was a year. Saturday finally came, and I was a captain, and he was a captain, too. It felt like we were about to do a boxing match. The whole coin toss, when the referees were talking, I was staring him down and he was staring me down. So I already knew what I was getting myself into, and he knew what he was getting himself into. We went at it that game; we went at it like some bulls. I had some wins, and I had some losses. That’s just how it goes when the best of the best are playing against each other.”
Many mock drafts have Fowler going to Jacksonville with the third overall pick. Given how he played when the two went head-to-head, Collins shouldn’t be far behind that.