When you think of Rebel junior Defensive End Marcus Tillman, one word comes to mind - consistent.
His whole time on this campus and on the Rebel team, the quiet man from McCall Creek, MS, has been a model of consistency.
He never takes a day off.
He never takes a play off.
He always does more than what has been asked of him.
And he has tunnel vision in regard to his football career. From the time he has been at Ole Miss, his goal has been to be the best. The song remains the same.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when Marcus responded about his personal goals for his junior season.
"I want to be more consistent in everything I do," he said with an economy for words that has become his trademark of sorts. "My offseason goals were to work hard, set an example for the young guys and to become faster and stronger."
Needless to say, that answer, coming from Marcus, caught us a little offguard at first, but upon reflection it shouldn't have.
That's just Marcus. Fanfare is not his bag. Calm, cool action is. Consistency resulting in even more consistency is his thing.
"I have gotten faster and stronger and I have taken off about five pounds. I weigh about 265 now and feel that's a good weight for me and for what the coaches want me to do," he explained.
Looking back over his first two years, Marcus has been a workhorse, but he's been somewhat uncelebrated. Running mate Greg Hardy makes the flashy plays and gets the ink. Tillman makes every play he's supposed to make and gets moderate recognition.
"To get to the All-SEC or All-American level, I have to make more plays. To make more plays I need to be more consistent. I need to keep improving the things I do well and take the things I don't do well up several notches, but the big thing is to do things right every down," Marcus assessed. "I watch film of myself and know I can do better. I know I can make more plays.
"Being more consistent will help me in my playmaking. If I'm consistent, the opportunity to make more plays will present itself. Sometimes it doesn't work that way and you have to do a little extra, but consistency is always required."
Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is known for his aggressive playcalling/defensive philosophy, meaning the DEs have to be pressure players. Of course, you could say that about most defensive coaches, but Marcus said Nix has motivated him to become faster.
"I am probably faster than they think I am," smiled Marcus, "but I was motivated to gain more speed due to the system we are now running."
Marcus is the boundary end, meaning he will play on the "short" side of the field regardless of whether the tight end is lined up on that side or not. Not having to cope with the TE every snap, like he has in the past, may very well give him the opportunity to make more of the dynamic plays.
"I don't have any numbers in mind in terms of sacks or tackles, but I want to make All-SEC and All-American. If I do that, the numbers will be there," he stated.
The DL is now a fairly mature group, no longer rookies. Peria Jerry, Hardy and Tillman quickly come to mind on the forward four of the defense. Not being newbies any more, Marcus believes in the DL's strength.
"I feel we are the strength of the defense. Being older now, I think we will take more of a leadership role in August camp," he continued. "We will set the tone for the defense. I'm kind of quiet, but it's becoming more natural for me to speak up now.
"My passion for the game has grown a lot since I have been here and as an older guy I want to see the young guys have that same passion for football. I want to help bring that out in them. If someone comes up short, I want them to know they gave it all they had and it wasn't a lack of effort why they didn't succeed."
Tillman sees good chemistry developing on the team.
"I feel like there's a rebirth going on with our team right now. In the past, we've had guys who got down and they didn't care. Football didn't matter to them much at times," he explained. "Now, those same guys want to improve and show their talents and help the team."
According to Marcus, there's a more relaxed atmosphere on the team now.
"The tension in the program is gone. We are all more relaxed and that will allow us to turn loose and play ball," said Marcus.
The on-the-field goal for the defensive line is to get more pressure on the QB and to stop the run game.
"Coach Nix likes to blitz, but I hope we will be good enough up front that we can apply a lot of pressure with our front four and he won't have to bring a lot of extra guys all the time. That is our goal," he stated.
Tillman likes the influx of "new" talent at DE.
"Emmanuel Stephens is very fast and explosive. Kentrell (Lockett) has taken a big step forward. I think he has gotten tired of not playing much," Tillman closed. "And we have a couple of freshmen who look like they have good potential to carry on when we are gone."
The Ole Miss football team, like any team, has strengths and areas of concern.
Mr. Consistent - Marcus Tillman - is the former.
Marcus Tillman update -
OM Spirit Top Stories
AP: LSU 38, Ole Miss 21BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leonard Fournette broke LSU's single-game rushing record on just his first eight carries -- scoring three touchdowns of 59 yards or more -- and the 25th-ranked…
OM Spirit10:57 PM
Instant Reaction: Ole Miss - LSUBATON ROUGE, La. - Ole Miss Spirit staffers give their instant reactions from the Rebels' 38-21 loss at LSU Saturday night.
OM Spirit10:48 PM
From the Locker Room: LSUBATON ROUGE, La. - Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and defensive end Marquis Haynes met the media following the Rebels' 38-21 loss at LSU Saturday night.
OM Spirit10:44 PM
Freeze: "We Gotta Look at Ourselves Hard"Baton Rouge, La. - Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said the Rebels fell short in all facets of the game in the second half against LSU. Ole Miss failed to score in the second half…
OM Spirit10:08 PM