In an expression of ultimate humility that is rare for a football player worthy of being a top-five pick, Fowler admitted he was completely overwhelmed by Collins in the '13 meeting.
"My sophomore year, we went to Baton Rouge and played against LSU, and I'm not going to lie, I got my butt whooped," Fowler told mmqb.si.com. "That was one of my worst games just because of how I got tossed around. So I spent the whole last summer getting ready for La'el, I ain't going to lie to you. 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."
These are two of the SEC's true titans from the last two years, and both players are widely expected to be chosen in the first round. Fowler, in fact, is projected to be picked ahead of Collins, in part because he plays a premium position as a gifted pass rusher.
But based on their head-to-head results, perhaps it should be the other way around.
By their combined accounts, Fowler had his 2014 matchup with Collins circled on his calendar for a year, and still was only able to play the Tigers' left tackle to a draw.
"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," Fowler said. "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."
Fowler said the two are friends and stay in contact.
There is some question as to whether Collins will play tackle or guard in the NFL. If he stays at tackle and finds himself with more head-to-head matchups against Fowler, consider Fowler the underdog.