As a junior McCollister threw for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns in an offense designed to utilize the ground game more than the air. So the Ohio prospect tucked and ran for more than 500 yards and 10 touchdowns on a team that was extremely young and that had returned just three starters from the previous year.
Despite his team's 2-8 season record, McCollister earned First Team All-Conference and All-District honors, while also being named Honorable Mention to the all-State team. So how did he shine despite his team's struggles?
"I think I have a strong and accurate arm and I move very well in the pocket. Being a coach's son, I think I understand the game of football very well. My biggest strength is my work ethic on and off the field. Coaches have also commented that I have very good size and strength for the quarterback position."
The size is obvious. The strength and toughness come from the weight room where McCollister has personal bests of 290 pounds on the bench press and 405 on the squat, but also from the defensive side of the ball where the quarterback becomes a ball hawking free safety. Though he is being recruited strictly as a quarterback at this time.
"I need to work on making my release a bit quicker and getting faster when I am running in the open field. I also believe every quarterback can become a more efficient player and should always work on eliminating turnovers."
An athletic quarterback who can move in and around the pocket while also performing in the passing game may sound awfully familiar to Duke fans who have followed the position under Coach Cutcliffe. In the last few years Duke has brought in players such as Sean Renfree, Anthony Boone, and Brandon Connette. Each of which can move and throw on the run. It's something that McCollister has noticed and followed as well with the Blue Devils recruiting him.
"The first thing you notice about Duke is their academics, obviously. But you also can't ignore that Coach Cutcliffe is a great quarterbacks coach. He has developed players like the Mannings and it would certainly be exciting to have an opportunity to learn from one of the best."
To date the major pitch from the Blue Devils has centered around the educational opportunities available for Duke football players, though no offer is on the table to McCollister or any quarterbacks in the class of 2012 from Cutcliffe and company.
Other schools throwing their collective hats in the mix include Indiana, Cincinnati, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Syracuse, West Virginia, Toledo, Bowling Green, Dartmouth, Kent State, Princeton, Harvard, and UCLA. Each of which has indicated varying levels of interest early on.
McCollister says he has yet to take any visits but has attended camps at Ohio State, Indiana, and Cincinnati. He also made it to basketball games at Penn State and Michigan during the off season. A basketball player himself, the 6'4 prospect has been forced to put recruiting on hold due to Rock Hill's hoops season. That meant declining invitations to several early Spring junior days including Duke, though he says he'll make it up with summer camp attendance.
And when he's making those visits for camp and beyond, what's he looking for?
"Academics are the most important thing for me. I also want to be part of a school with a good reputation and football tradition. I will not limit myself to a particular location or conference."