It's not a quick summer tour of Europe, but for offensive line prospect Lee Tilley his road trip of college campuses will probably feel like a budget trip across the continent, sort of like visiting eight countries in seven days.
Tilley, who plans to finish his road trip late next week and then return home to Springfield, Ohio, says he enjoyed his visit to the Auburn University campus. Auburn, a program that finished the season 13-0 last season, will be looking to defend its SEC title this fall.
The six-foot-seven, 300-pound lineman has already set official visits for Oklahoma on Oct. 1 and Arizona State on Oct. 8, but notes that doesn't mean those are his leaders. He says that he plans to take his full allotment of five official visits and notes that he is using the road trip to sort out the other colleges he will officially visit.
"What I am trying to find are schools with good situations, good coaches, good staffs and good academics," he says. "At the end of the football season, the glitz and glamour goes away and I want to find a place where if I have a problem the coach will be there to talk to me if I need it. I am looking for good people and good situations."
Commenting on his first visit to Auburn, the lineman says he got to talk to offensive line coach Hugh Nall, the strength and conditioning coach (Kevin Yoxall) and watched some of the players working out at the football complex practice fields.
"I think I got a feel for Auburn and it is a great place," Tilley says. "I got to go around the campus and see the academic centers and talk to academic advisers. I am just very impressed with the way the place is run very efficiently and thoroughly.
"They are hitting the mark on graduating athletes," he adds. "They keep them in the program and that helps them win. They have first round draft picks and great defensive players, which is something that would help me become better working against those types of players in practice."
Tilley says that at the end of his road trip he plans to narrow his list of colleges so he doesn't waste the time of other colleges who are interested. In all, he has 36 scholarship offers. He says it is too early to know if he will be back for an official visit, but notes that it is a definite possibility with Auburn being a team he has been very interested in for a long time. The visit to AU's campus increased that interest.
The offensive lineman selected the colleges he is visiting based on phone conversations with coaches.
Despite being one of the nation's top prospects, he is still relatively new to the sport. This will be just his fourth season to compete in football.
"I like everything about football," he says. "I like having fun playing the game. It is controlled violence. If you knock somebody out, you knock them out and you can't do that in basketball."
Earlier in high school, he played basketball, but gave that up to concentrate on one sport. "I gave up basketball so I could get a little stronger for football," he says. "Our basketball team was so good we almost went to the month of May every year. It was hard to get to the weight room every day when we were practicing basketball."
As a football player, Tilley says he is trying to work on all phases of the game as he prepares for his senior season at Springfield South High.
"I am trying to get better as an all-around player," he notes. "My thing is to keep lifting and try to get stronger, faster and bigger so when I do step into college I can say I am decent when I get there. College football is a whole other level."
The big offensive lineman says he is hoping to have a decision on his college choice sometime in October.
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