The tagline of "dual-threat quarterback" is tossed around with increasing frequency these days, but one member of the Class of 2008 who certainly deserves that description is Jerome Tiller. The 6'3" 180-pound signal caller scored 12 touchdowns on the ground as a junior at San Antonio (Tex.) Lee High School who running for 450 yards, in addition to 10 more scores an 1,323 yards through the air. He is not just a scrambler, but also a playmaker who can throw on the run.
The athleticism of Tiller was put to the test in March at the Dallas Scout.com All-American Combine, and he dazzled. His 4.50 40 was just the beginning, as he also cleared an eye-popping 10'1" in the standing broad jump. Tiller's 6.85 seconds in the three-cone drill also astounded, besting all but four of the combine's running backs, wide receivers, cornerbacks and safeties.
More recently at his high school, the San Antonio athlete ran a 4.46 in the 40 three times while a college coach watched.
"There were a lot of designed plays for me running-wise," Tiller says of his junior season. "The big runs would come out of pass plays or a busted block on the line."
"I was just trying to be a playmaker, and if there was nothing there, I tried to make something out it," he adds. "On a busted play, if everything is covered or if there's a blitz and we didn't pick it up, I would make a play and pick up some yards."
Though Tiller earned acclaim for both his arm and his feet, the Volunteers found too few victories in 2006.
"We went 3-7 and lost a couple shootout games that came down to the very end, where we couldn't make a tackle, threw a bad ball or had a fumble," the quarterback comments. "One little mistake, and that hurt us most of the season."
Some of those turnovers came on Tiller's head, tossing 12 interceptions on the season. Having sometimes too-happy feet and making a costly decision is something he hopes to improve for his senior season.
"Pocket presence. I would like to be a little more relaxed in the pocket," he allows. "I can get a little antsy."
College recruiters have also been antsy in their pursuit of Tiller. He owns scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Minnesota, Purdue and most recently Stanford. The Cardinal offered Thursday when head coach Jim Harbaugh came to the school and assessed Tiller in person.
"It was a big surprise," he says of the Stanford offer. "I was really shocked. Really shocked."
The Cardinal have moved themselves into the picture for Tiller, though he is not yet ranking any favorites among his college suitors.
"I really don't know," Tiller offers. "My top schools are still the ones who I have been offered by and are the ones I'm going to look into the most... They're all even. I don't want to put anyone on top of anybody and offend any schools."
"It's going to come down to academics and graduation percentage - which school is going to take me the furthest in life," he adds. "Also the type of offense that fits me the best."
Tiller says that Stanford stacks up well with both criteria.
"Stanford is number one in graduation percentage," the recruit comments. "[Harbaugh] runs a West Coast Offense, and that works for me. It'll let me do the same thing I do now - make big plays."
With three of his current offer schools a fair plan ride away, Tiller also minimizes the impact that distance will have when it becomes decision time for him and his family.
"Location is not a big thing for me," the son says. "They're not worried about location. They want me to go to school to get an education."
Tiller also is not in as big a rush as seemingly many quarterbacks today who are hurrying for spring or summer commitments..
"I plan on taking some official visits in the early fall," Tiller forecasts. "I don't know where exactly, but I plan on taking all five."
With a reported 3.5 core GPA, Tiller tries to live out both halves of the student-athlete ideal. He sat down for the SAT for the first time this past weekend and intends to take the ACT.
Jerome Tiller is currently rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com and has been initially slotted at #94 in the Southwest Top 100. His recruiting story has already gone national and should stretch until at least October or November. Buckle in and stay tuned for all the latest as his saga unfolds.
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