Tillman ready to carry Bulldogs

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MEADVILLE — Franklin County’s Bulldogs are ready to make a runin the state football playoffs. If defensive lineman Bo Tillman hashis way, he will help the Bulldogs repeat as Class 3A statechampions.

Tillman was a major force in Franklin County’s 42-8 smashing ofthe South Pike Eagles. He was credited with 10 tackles and adeflected punt.

For his performance, Tillman has been named The DAILY LEADER’sDefensive Player of the Week.

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Franklin County head coach Grady McCluskey said Tillman beganplaying up to his potential. “Bo finally played like he is capableof playing. He’s been playing pretty good. He was relentless.”

At 6-foot-6 and 310 pouds, Tillman is an awesome force on thegridiron. He admits that motivation can be a problem for him.

“Bo gets kind of lazy on us some times but a lot of those biglinmen appear that way,” said McCluskey.

Against South Pike, McCluskey said he saw his big senior step itup several notches. “He ran down field on punt coverage and beatevery body to the football. He’s the long snapper and he smackedthat boy (receiver) and almost killed him.”

Considered a major college prospect, Tillman is wrestling withthe academic side of high school life. McCluskey said he hasunlimited potential on the gridiron.

“Bo has a good quick step,” said McCluskey. “He’s gotstraight-line speed for his size. He’s got NFL potential but he hasa lot of obstacles to overcome. He has got the tools.

“There’s not a better defensive lineman in the state,” McCluskeypointed out. “When Bo wants to play, you are not going to blockhim.”

Tillman’s older brother, Marcus, was highly recruited as asenior and signed with the Ole Miss Rebels. He started at defensiveend as a freshman at Ole Miss last season. A model student and anexceptional player, Tillman was named to the All-SEC FreshmanTeam.

Bo Tillman said McCluskey showed the team a replay of theBulldogs’ state championship season prior to the South Pike game asa motivational tool. “I was ready to play. Coach McCluskey ran thetape about us winning the state championship last year and what theseniors did. I got it in my head I wanted to accomplish the samething.

“I believe we can go all the way if we just play hard like wedid against South Pike,” said Tillman. “I don’t think we can bebeaten.”

Recalling his team’s shocking back-to-back setbacks earlier inthe season, Tillman said, “We didn’t finish the game againstTylertown and Jefferson County.”

The losses left the Bulldogs (6-2, 2-2) battling for survival inthe Region 7-3A race. Against region leader South Pike, Tillman wasmoved from end to defensive tackle. “I love playing defensivetackle.”

His responsibilities in the line are, “Don’t get trapped andstay in the lanes. I think we have the best defense in the state ofMississippi.”

Asked about his future plans, Tillman said, “I’m going to waituntil after football before I get into thinking about college.”

Tillman thanked his teammates and coaches for helping him winthe award. “Coach McCluskey gets me motivated. Coach (Tony) Gibbsis the best at designing plays. He acts like he’s in the game withus.”

In the weight room, Tillman bench presses 320 pounds. He squatswith 465 pounds.

Tillman said he plans to play basketball this winter for CoachChris Jordan. In track, Tillman hurls the discus and theshotput.

Notable Performances

Other notable defensive performances by area players last week:Bogue Chitto’s Austin Jones, 15 tackles; Brookhaven Academy’sSteven Watts, 9 tackles; Wesson’s Beau Wilson, 11 tackles.