Franklin’s Coll reflects on weekend at 49ers’ rookie minicamp

The sport of football has played a starring role in some of the most memorable days of Clayton Coll’s young life.

Two of them were this past weekend.

Coll, the former Ball State linebacker invited to participate in the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie minicamp, failed to make the 90-man roster, but left Santa Clara feeling nothing but positives about the overall experience.

“It was awesome,” the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Coll said. “Just to be back around high-level football again, it was phenomenal. Just the tradition and the culture of the 49ers. It’s historically been there, and it’s just an unbelievable place.”

Coll’s venture west lasted roughly 48 hours. The former Franklin standout flew out of Indianapolis on Thursday morning and returned Saturday.

While at the team’s training complex, Coll and the other rookies attended meetings, went through position drills, walk-throughs and jog-throughs, competed in 7-on-7s and more.

“I felt like I had a really good camp,” he said. “I got a lot of good feedback from the coaches and my agent (Christian Addison), and there’s always a chance I could be called back.”

The fact Coll continues to entertain NFL dreams is a testament to his commitment after missing the majority of his senior season at Ball State. Coll sustained a lower left leg/ankle injury late in the second quarter of the Cardinals’ 44-14 season-opening loss at Kentucky.

Prior to that, Coll had been projected by some scouting services as a middle- to late-round selection in the 2024 NFL draft. The previous season, he had led BSU in tackles with 110, seven tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

His 9.2 tackles per outing ranked seventh in the Mid-American Conference and 27th nationally.

Eight and a half months after his injury, Coll feels as confident on the football field as ever before.

“I’m really proud of where I’ve come from after my injury,” Coll said. “With the rehabilitation and training, I put everything I had into it.”

Coll graduated from Ball State with a B.S. in biology and pre-med. He aspires to eventually become an orthopedic surgeon.

Married two years as of May 10 to former Franklin swimmer Ali Terrell, he finds himself in wait-and-see mode about how the next few years of his life will unfold.

“That’s something I’m going to be battling a lot,” said Coll, referring to the knowing the dividing line separating football from the rest of his life. “Once football is gone, it’s gone.”

Maybe San Francisco gives him a call back. Or perhaps another NFL team hears about Coll’s many positive attributes and brings him in for a chance to make its roster.

Then there is the Canadian Football League, which has nine franchises and kicks off its preseason on May 20 with regular-season games to start June 6.

Addison, who runs his own agency, ASE Representation, in Charleston, S.C., currently represents 13 professional football players spread across the NFL, CFL and United Football League.

He sees mid-June to mid-July as an important window of time.

“For Clayton, (the 49ers) really liked him, and he’s on a short list to get called back,” Addison said. “There are probably five or six teams where he’s on the short list. The two teams are the 49ers and the (Miami) Dolphins.

“Clayton could get called at any moment. I monitor the waiver wire every day, and when a team cuts or trades a linebacker, I immediately reach out. Clayton’s football IQ is outstanding. When he gets that call, he’s going to be ready.”