#59 Caleb Tillman
Class: RS Freshman
Position: Defensive Line
Hometown: Dothan, AL
Thoughts: Tillman was an interesting pickup for the Cards back in 2016. After previously committing to Mississippi State Tillman decided he would rather play for the Cards and flipped his commitment, even though he had yet to step foot on campus. His deciding factor of course was the relationship he had built with the coaches and his main recruiter, (I’ll give you one guess) LD Scott. After taking a redshirt last year, sitting behind a veteran defensive line, a twist of irony now places Caleb at his school of choice, playing for a coach he has previously committed to (Sirmon) at Mississippi State.
Caleb is an athletic kid up front who mostly used his quickness to get into the backfield in high school. Scott has praised his drive since he showed up on campus but reminded us that he could use some adjustments to his technique (pad level, shedding blocks, etc) and his physicality, as most freshman do. In the spring Tillman tested well in the “agility” tests, as many expected him to, running a 4.87s 40 and posting a 9’3” broad jump. Petrino said he was coming off of a shoulder surgery (which I must have missed somewhere) and was already looking to crack the rotation along the line as a RS freshman. Most of the spring he was getting second team reps on the inside along with GG Robinson and I’d assume he and Robinson will likely split some of that time this year as they watch a Senior heavy line dominate the majority of the playing time.
The impressive thing about Tillman to me is that adding weight/strength is typically much easier to do with a lineman than adding speed or quickness and since he already has the speed, he could develop into a heck of a player. Some of the elite pass rushers and interior linemen in the game separate themselves because they can get into the backfield not just by bullying you or pushing you around, but by avoiding unnecessary contact. I’m sure Coach Scott would like to see him add some muscle and improve the physical aspect of his game, but I think he can be something special on the edge moving forward. With the departure of Drew Bailey, Chris Williams, and Richardson (the whole damn D-line) after this season, someone needs to fill that roll of getting into the backfield on a consistent basis. I think Tillman is that man, and could become a starter for the Cards as early as next year.
Living the dream and waiting patiently— caleb tillman (@CalebTillman16) November 13, 2016
One of the fun things about the countdown is that I, and you as well, get to go back and look at how players progressed throughout their college career. It’s weird sometimes to go back and look at my post for a true freshman as they now enter their junior or senior season, or read about how I projected a players career path might go and in hindsight realize just how off (or on target) I may have been. Hope I’m right about Tillman and his impact moving forward, I can’t wait to scroll back to this page in 2019 and pat myself on the back.
Somebody put a reminder in your phone for July 6th 2019 so you can either congratulate me or laugh at me. Well worth your time, either way.