The logistics of Mississippi State pledge Caleb Tillman’s inaugural North Carolina visit are becoming less cloudy.
“I’m going at the end of this month,” the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman from Dothan (Ala.) Northview said. “I don’t know which day, because I’ve got to work around football. But I know for a fact I’m going this month, because I’ve got to go see it.”
The reason for Tillman’s certainty: his father has taken off work specifically for a trip to Chapel Hill. Furthermore, Tillman has established a backup plan. In the event that his father is called into work at the last moment, his mother has agreed to drive her son.
“I’ve already told the coaches that I’m coming up at the end of July,” Tillman said. “Somehow, some way I’m going to go.”
Tillman has a few objectives for this impending UNC visit, including learning about the Tar Heels’ football tradition, meeting with Larry Fedora, and exploring the campus. Also, Tillman hopes to spend ample time with Tray Scott, UNC’s defensive line coach who has developed a strong relationship with Tillman through frequent communication.
“[Scott] wants me to come be a part of the ‘Trench Mob’ at North Carolina,” Tillman said. “And he wants me to come up and visit so he can show me around.”
Scott projects Tillman to play both the power end and three-technique, according to Tillman.
“He said that in the Cheetah Package for pass rush downs, I’ll be moved inside,” Tillman said.
In addition to Scott, Tillman has heard plenty about UNC from Tyler Pritchett, a fellow Alabama native who’s been committed to the Tar Heels since April. Like Tillman, Pritchett initially found difficulty in arranging a UNC trip – he actually committed prior to seeing the campus, but has since visited twice.
“I last talked to [Pritchett], I’d say, before the Fourth of July,” Tillman said. “He’s recruiting me, but we’re ‘Bama Boys’ so if I do [commit to UNC] we’re the only two from ‘Bama so we’ll automatically have that connection and come home together during breaks. He told me it’s a nice place. He sent me a couple of pictures from his visits.”
The lack of a UNC visit thus far isn’t a reflection of Tillman’s actual interest in the Tar Heels. Transportation issues and Northview’s offseason schedule has limited him to a single recruiting trip the past couple of months – Georgia Tech earlier this summer.
In addition to UNC, Tillman plans to visit Ole Miss by the end of the summer. He also hopes to squeeze in a trip to Kentucky, but isn’t as confident. If he doesn’t make it to Lexington within the next couple of months, he’ll save the trip for the football season.
Although his focus is on summer visits, Tillman has begun to glance at potential in-season trips. Tentatively, he plans to return to Georgia Tech for its homecoming game against Florida State on Oct. 24. He also hopes to tag along with Pritchett for a yet-to-be-determined UNC game.
Tillman is making all these trips as a Mississippi State commitment. He originally pledged to the Bulldogs last November.
“I’m solid [to Mississippi State], but I committed early and I started receiving other scholarships,” Tillman said. “I still want to go to Mississippi State, because I love Mississippi State. But, you only go through the recruiting process one time and I don’t want to have any regrets later saying, ‘Aw, I should have went and visited this school, I should have visited that school.’ I just want to come and see what other schools have to offer.”
The Mississippi State coaching staff hasn’t deterred Tillman from visiting elsewhere.
“They told me, ‘We want you, we want you at Mississippi State, but you’re still in the recruiting process,’” Tillman said. “They’re not pressuring me and being like, ‘No, don’t visit any other schools.’ They aren’t doing any of that.”
Outside of Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and UNC are the schools that are recruiting Tillman the hardest, he says.
Tillman Determined to See UNC
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