What a difference a year has made for Southern redshirt junior Lenard Tillery. Throughout fall camp in 2014, the majority of the questions directed his way were inquiries about all of the new running backs that would likely move ahead of him on the depth chart. Transfers like the hard-running Malcom Crockett, shifty Tyre Bracken and versatile Jamarcus Jarvis.
Now just five days into 2015 fall camp, there’s no question that Tillery is the man in the running back room. When injury set in with the rest of the backfield and SWAC play began last year, Tillery took the lead and never gave it back.
The McKinley product rushed for 1,267 yards and nine touchdowns. He was far and away the team leader in those categories as well as carries, proving how reliable he could be when the offense needed him to take the weight of the game off of their young quarterbacks.
With another year of experience, he’s become quite the leader as well.
“No matter what he does or how he does it, he’s going to do it with a lot of confidence and a lot of swag,” says fellow running back Herb Edwards. “That’s something I really learned from him. Don’t second guess yourself. He never second guesses himself.”
Tillery says it was a process getting to the point that he’s at today. Things didn’t always come so naturally to him when he began at Southern.
“When I came in, everything was just fast to me,” says the first-team All-SWAC running back. “The playbook was different from high school. It’s not that it slows down. It’s that you get more understanding when you understand the playbook and understanding the people you’re playing with. You know that Mosley’s going to be better at your drive blocking. You know Jamal’s going to be a perimeter blocker. Once you start understanding the small things like that, the game just slows down for you.”
“These guys are in tune to what we’re doing and what we expect,” says head coach Dawson Odums. “They’re locked in. They understand exactly what we’re trying to do.”
Friday is when we really start to see what the running backs and entire team are made of when the full pads go on for the first time, but as it’s been well-documented with Tillery, we know he’s the man under the lights when the real games begin.
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