Tillman tops Franklin Co. parade

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

MEADVILLE — For 10 long months Marcus Tillman’s plan was to bean LSU Tiger, but that plan changed. Tillman officially signed withOle Miss Wednesday morning over LSU and Alabama.

“I just had a better feel with the coaches and the school,” saidTillman, who visited Ole Miss Jan, 14-15. “They do a good jobrecruiting, and made me feel at home.”

The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Tillman cited playing time and stayingin state as the main reasons for his late selection of the Rebels.Tillman committed to LSU back in May. Less than 48-hours to signingday, he changed his commitment from Tiger purple to Ole Missblue.

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“I felt that I had a really good chance to play and start up atOle Miss next year,” added Tillman. “LSU and Alabama told me Iwould see time as a third down end and such. I felt at Ole Miss Iwould have a better opportunity to play and better myself in thefuture.”

A Parade Magazine All-American and All-State defensiveend, Tillman registered 54 tackles and made eight sacks as asenior. He had 72 tackles and 16 sacks as a junior.

“Marcus helped us a lot here,” said Franklin County head coachGrady McCluskey. “He will have a chance to further his educationand play on the Division One level.”

Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron was moved to tears when hediscussed the intense recruiting battle for Tillman Wednesdayevening. “Marcus became a Rebel in a hard fight and we won.”

Besides Tillman, other Franklin County Bulldogs also inkedscholarship deals: 6-3, 340-pound offensive lineman EmmanuelMuhammad signed with Jackson State, over scholarship offers fromMississippi Valley State and Co-Lin.

“I just felt that this was where I needed to be,” addedMuhammad. “I had a good visit up there, and felt really good aboutthe program they have. I look forward to playing for Coach (Rick)Comegy.”

Three other Bulldogs signed pacts with Copiah-Lincoln Communitycollege in fullback/linebacker D.J. Shaw, cornerback JonteMarshall, and linebacker Casey Hammack.

Shaw (6-2, 240) signed with Co-Lin over a partial scholarshipoffer from Jackson State. He also gained interest fromLouisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi Valley State, and Delta State.

“It came down to Jackson State and Co-Lin pretty much,” saidShaw. “I just felt that I can come to Co-Lin for two years andbetter myself in the long run.”

Hammack (6-2, 200) picked the Wolves over a scholarship offerfrom East Mississippi Community College. Hammack led the Bulldogsin tackles as a senior with 80 hits.

“I want to play and I want to be closer to home,” said Hammack.”At Co-Lin I can do both.”

As for Marshall (5-9. 165), the Bulldogs seniorquarterback/defensive back signed with Co-Lin to also improve hisstock on the next level. Marshall brings lightning-quick 4.4 speedin the 40-yard dash to the Wesson campus.

“I know I’ve got to work the hardest I ever worked now,” saidMarshall. “I plan on helping Co-Lin out the best way I can overthese next two years.”

Marshall ran for 412 yards last season for six scores. He isexpected to play defensive back at Co-Lin.

“This is a great day for these young men and our school,” saidFranklin High Principal M.D. Bilbo. “Not only will they have achance to play on the college level, but they also will befurthering their education.”