Tilley gets Pac-10 offer

Lee Tilley is a 6-foot-7, 311-pound offensive lineman from Springfield (Ohio) South, and Tilley's recruiting stock has been moving faster than a Tokyo bullet train. With four more offers tendered just in the last couple of days, South Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Beckham has been a busy man.

"Schools have been hot on Lee for quite awhile," Beckham told Dawgman.com Thursday. News came out of Springfield early Thursday that Tilley had been offered a scholarship to play for Washington, one of 16 offers the young man has received to date. In fact, Tilley may be the first offensive lineman east of the Mississippi to be offered a scholarship by Washington since the Jim Lambright days.

"I think there are two things about the offer that make it special for Lee," South Head Coach Tony Broering told Dawgman.com Thursday. "First, the distance of the offer, knowing that a school from that far away wants you means a lot to the family. Secondly, it shows what a coach can do for a school. There's something about getting a call from Coach (Tyrone) Willingham that makes it very special."

Ironically enough, Willingham wasn't the coach from Washington that extended the offer. It came from Running Backs Coach Trent Miles. "Coach Miles told me that he is their national recruiting coach," said Beckham, who is also Tilley's position coach.

"Over spring break, Lee's mother expressed interest in where Coach Willingham went," said Beckham, also noting that Willingham had sent out tickets for Tilley, but Lee had not gotten the chance to visit South Bend while Willingham was Head Coach there. "I told her that he was now at Washington, so she asked me if I thought they would be interested in Lee. I sent Coach Miles a video link of Lee and he asked for tape.

"He said that they got the tape this morning and Coach Willingham told him that an offer would be in the mail in a couple of days."

So in Beckham's mind, what sets this offer apart from the others? Tilley does have standing offers from schools like Georgia, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma and others, so why would an offer from a 1-10 team carry a lot of weight? Two words.

Tyrone Willingham.

"Coach Willingham is a great guy and his reputation preceeds him," said Beckham. "That interests the Tilleys a great deal. There's something special there with Coach Willingham. I'm not saying that he's going to commit to them tomorrow or anything, but Washington will get a good, hard look because of what Coach Willingham brings to the table. He has success in getting players through school and making them better players and people."

"I just got off the phone with Lee's mother and their level of excitement is actually surprising to me," added Broering.

What is just as surprising to the South coaches is the lack of activity from Big-10 schools, especially those literally in Tilley's backyard. "Indiana has offered, but I think a lot of them know that Lee is interested in leaving the area," said Beckham. "His mother is retired, and they've got family in Las Vegas, in California and down south."

The South coaches have been very instrumental in Tilley's recruiting process so far, and right now they are pushing Lee to make an early decision. "We've gone through this with enough kids - but none like Lee - that we know it can be a distraction. That, and just because a school has offered doesn't mean they can't pull that offer late. An early commitment rewards those schools that have come early and shown the most attention."

And when would the timeline for an early decision come? "We've talked about the end of June," said Beckham. "We may need to make some plans to go out west, though. Barring the possibility of not getting out to all the schools he needs to, the end of June is our goal for him to decide."

According to Beckham, Tilley is starting his world tour next week, with unofficial visits planned to Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Syracuse. "We're probably going to go out to Cincinnati for a practice and we might get to Louisville and Tennessee too," he added.

But a school in the northwest corner of the country has a few people in Springfield, Ohio stirring. "They may have been the 16th school to offer him, but they are definitely in his top-three right now," said Broering. "If he had to take official visits right now, Washington would be one of those visits."

"He's a great kid," added Beckham. "He works hard and deserves everything he gets. He's looking for a chance to make it to the next level, but he also wants to make sure that he's set up for life too with his education. He's looking for that (business) degree."

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