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December 7, 2009

Former Southern Miss signee eyes Ole Miss

If there had been no coaching change at Ole Miss after the 2007 season, the Rebels may have had three Tillmans on their roster for the last two seasons - Marcus Tillman, now finishing his senior, would have been joined by half-brother Bo Tillman and cousin Aljoshua Tillman.

However, with the coaching transition ongoing, coupled with the fact their-then main recruiter, Tony Hughes, had signed on with Southern Miss after the coaching shakeup, led Bo and Josh to Southern Miss on signing day in 2008.

However, things didn't work out exactly like the younger Tillman duo had planned. Bo failed to qualify and Josh, for undisclosed reasons, never enrolled on the Hattiesburg campus.

Fast forward two years, and the Tillmans, who prepped at Franklin County High School in Meadville, Miss., are trying to get to where their heart told them was the right place in 2007 - Ole Miss.

The journey has been an interesting one. Josh, a three-star rated prospect was a full qualifier out of high school, but elected to enroll at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss. over enrolling at Southern Miss. Bo, a four-star rated defensive tackle prospect, sat out the 2008 season, never enrolling in any college. Instead, he tried to improve his grades through continued independent study that fall. He thought he was on course to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse House at some point late in 2008 or early 2009, but that never happened.

"Bo played the last three games of the season at Co-Lin," Josh Tillman said on Sunday after completing an official visit to Ole Miss over the weekend. "He missed most the season as he was coming off knee surgery. He got hung up with his grades (since signing with Southern Miss) and tried to get them straight, but it's never worked out."

Meanwhile, Josh recently finished up his sophomore season at Co-Lin and is looking for at four-year schools to continue his college career.

"I never enrolled at Southern Miss, so I don't have to graduate (from junior college) to go to a four-year school," Tillman said. "I can sign in December and enroll in January and that's what I'm hoping to do."

Tillman claims offers from Iowa State, Baylor, Toledo, Ohio, UCF, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and Louisiana-Lafayette. He said he's also getting interest from Arkansas and Texas Tech.

"That's what I've been doing most of the day - going over schools and deciding where I want to go on my visits," Tillman said on Sunday. "I've only got a couple of weekends left (due to being a December signee) and I think I want to go to Arkansas and maybe the other one will be to Louisiana Tech. If Arkansas offers, and they're coming in tomorrow, I'll definitely probably go up there next week."

Tillman, a 6-foot-5, 260 pound defensive lineman, said his weekend trip to Ole Miss "went good," even though he's been to the Oxford campus numerous times before.

"I hung out a lot with (defensive back prospect) Dequan Menzie (his teammate from Co-Lin, who Ole Miss is recruiting heavily) and we had a good time," Tillman said. "I went to practice and talked with (Greg) Hardy, Marcus, Kentrell Lockett, Jerrell Powe, and all those guys. They are really happy and enjoying it up there. I could see myself fitting in there."

"I stayed over at the hotel with the others (prospects on official visits) and Bo stayed with a friend I think," Josh Tillman continued. "We had a good time up at Ole Miss. I talked with (defensive coordinator) Coach (Tyrone) Nix, (defensive line coach) Coach (Terry) Price, and Coach (Houston) Nutt. They all told me I have a home at Ole Miss. They told me they want me to go on my other visits just to make sure Ole Miss is the right place for me. "

While Tillman apparently has several options, he said he would love to join Ole Miss in January. He attributes the interest he's getting from several schools due to his versatility.

"We had some injuries on the line, so I played out of position," said Tillman, who projects as a defensive end. "I played a lot inside (at tackle), so coaches got to see me play both at defensive end and inside. I think that's what has a lot of schools interested in me - I can play both inside and out on the line and they saw that."

Tillman said he'll follow the Ole Miss coaches' advice and take his official visits before he commits to a school.

If Tillman is correct, and can transfer without graduating and without a release from Southern Miss, he still must meet the NCAA's academic progress requirements in order to be able to practice this spring. He said he's on track to do that.

When it comes to Ole Miss, he has another hurdle. The Rebels will likely only sign with junior college defensive lineman and the apparent top priority is Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College four-star prospect Wayne Dorsey.

As for Bo, Josh Tillman said his cousin is a freshman and apparently will have to complete junior college to transfer, unless the NCAA clears him, which has yet to happen in almost a year.

Tillman said he will have two years of eligibility remaining and three years in which to complete it.


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