Todd Orlando added an in-state linebacker in the 2019 class. (Jay Janner / American-Statesman)

Football

Commitment 101: Longhorns add versatility on defense with Marcus Tillman Jr.

Posted July 28th, 2018

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Marcus Tillman Jr., a three-star outside linebacker from Jones (Fla.), surprised the recruiting world on Saturday to become the 14th member of Texas’ 2019 recruiting class. Tillman is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound prospect who was favored to choose Florida. He’s the second outside linebacker committed to the Longhorns in the cycle, joining De’Gabriel Floyd, a four-star from California.

Tillman is the No. 22-ranked outside linebacker in the country and the No. 54-ranked prospect from Florida in the 2019 class, per 247Sports Composite. He’s the seventh out-of-state pledge for Tom Herman’s program in the 2019 class. He held 18 offers.

Skill set: Tillman is a speedy linebacker who began his career at safety. He’s grown into a future outside linebacker with age and is now listed at 220 pounds. The Big 12 requires linebackers with speed, as does the system ran by Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Tillman checks those boxes. He’s a versatile defender who is comfortable in space, strong enough to stop the run and fast enough to blitz the quarterback. Texas wants linebackers who can play in all three facets of the game and Tillman impressed at the Stars at Night camp on campus Friday. He earned an offer and committed the next day. He’s not as polished as Floyd, but the upside for Tillman is tremendous because of his athleticism.

Immediate impact: The new rule allowing players to compete in four games without losing a redshirt opportunity means players like Tillman can get a fast-track to the field. He can be used on special teams and in certain defensive packages early. If he’s not ready, he redshirts. If Tillman shows up on campus and makes an early impact in practice and during his game-day snaps, he’s a player who can make an early impact for the Longhorns. Texas lacks proven linebackers outside of Gary Johnson and he’ll be graduated by the time Tillman arrives on campus.

Fitting into the program: It shouldn’t be hard for Tillman to immerse himself into the Longhorn program as an outsider. Half of Texas’ 2019 class is made up of out-of-state commits. Tillman is the first from Florida, but Texas is also pursuing outside linebacker Rian Davis and running backs Noah Cain and Trey Sanders from Florida. Herman is showing that the Texas borders won’t stop him from pursuing the targets he feels are needed to complete the roster at Texas. Tillman is a perfect fit for the Longhorns scheme because of his versatility and speed.

Recruiting at the position: Tillman is the second piece of the puzzle at outside linebacker. Davis, a fellow Floridian, is the biggest remaining target at the position. The only in-state middle linebacker with a Texas offer is Katy Cinco Ranch prospect David Gbenda. Texas is also in pursuit of Makiya Tongue, a four-star athlete from Louisiana who can play wide receiver or linebacker in college. Expect the Longhorns to sign at least three linebacker prospects in the 2019 cycle.

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