Tillman back at home 'on the edge'

All of a sudden Marcus Tillman feels like he's back at home. After two games at defensive tackle due to inside injuries, Marcus moves back outside.

The junior defensive stalwart has moved back to end after playing two games at tackle while teammates Ted Laurent and Peria Jerry were out with injury or still not 100 percent. Although he's obviously mainly concerned about what's best for the team, defensive end is where he prefers to be.

"I'm excited to be back," said the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder from Franklin County High School. "It feels good."

After Tuesday's grueling practice, Tillman admitted it was taking some adjustment to get completely comfortable.

"I've got to get used to it again," he said, mentioning it took a bit of a toll on him on day one. "There was a lot of running and I got a little worn down. I've got to get my steps back and get used to it again, playing out there on the edge."

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt has praised Tillman for his willingness to play inside and also his work ethic and leadership while there. And he's excited about moving him back outside to see how much it helps the defense as a whole.

"He's consistent. He knows what to do. He's very reliable," Nutt said. "He's just been awesome. He's been a warrior for us. To be moving around and all (from position to position), a lot of young men couldn't handle that."

Nutt said it's good to be getting some of the defensive players back who have been out. Greg Hardy also appears to be getting closer to playing again. If the Rebels can get them all back and avoid further setbacks throughout the defense, they should be a much stronger unit.

"We've got a little bit more depth there than we had two weeks ago," Nutt said.

Tillman said Wake Forest was a solid team, and its offensive line was a test for the Rebel defenders. It was a battle down in the trenches that was back and forth, much like the game itself.

"They're a good football team," he said of the Demon Deacons. "At times I felt I was getting pushed around some, and at times I felt I was getting good penetration. There was some back and forth."

Tillman is hopeful the Rebels will continue to improve as a defensive unit now that some players are returning.

"I feel like they'll be a big part of our success this season," said Tillman, who started all 12 games last season at defensive end. "It's good to get them back."

Tillman started 11 games as a freshman when he earned Freshman All-America honors. Six of those starts were at defensive tackle, and five were at defensive end.

He's had experience both places now, but being out there "on the edge" is where he feels he can help this team the most.

"I feel like I'm at home," Tillman said. "It's where I've always played. It just feels more natural out there for me."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix said the move inside was always a temporary thing for Marcus.

"Now that we are finally getting healthy, it's the right move to put Marcus outside. He's such a consistent player," Nix said. "You always know what you are going to get with Marcus and with him at end and Peria and Laurent back we get a little stronger up front.

"We are giving up a little speed there, but Marcus will be better against the run and will provide some pressure from the edge."

For Tillman, there's no place like home.


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