Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future
Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
By Sammy Batten
Staff Writer for The Fayetteville Observer
South Robeson backfield star opts for
Tillman, McQueen inject youth into
veteran running backs corps
Mike Brill admits he didn’t see it coming.
That’s why, when Robert Tillman was a freshman football player at South
Robeson High School in Rowland, Brill first played him at offensive guard.
“You know how my guards have to be able to run, and I saw how fast he was,’’
Brill said, “but then I saw him return that punt.’’
Tillman gave Brill a glimpse of things to come when, in a junior varsity
game against Red Springs in 1999, he took a punt back 85 yards for a
“That was it,’’ Brill said. “He was playing in the backfield the next
Tillman has spent the last two seasons as a starting halfback in South
Robeson’s Wing-T alignment. He employed a fast, slashing running style
reminiscent of former
East Carolina great Leonard Henry to pile up 2,000 yards rushing, despite
missing half of 2001 with a broken collarbone.
The 6-foot, 174-pounder decided to follow in Henry’s footsteps on Tuesday by
making an oral commitment to play for the Pirates.
ECU head coach Steve Logan offered a scholarship last Saturday while Tillman
was in Greenville for summer camp.
“I went through the workout that day and they called me up to Coach Logan’s
office,’’ Tillman said. “They told me I had to let them know in a little
while if I was
interested in them.
“But that didn’t take me long. They have nice facilities, good academics and
it’s a place I know I’ll get to play.’’
Tillman who was being recruited by schools such as Maryland, North Carolina,
N.C. State, Richmond and South Carolina. He said the Wolfpack and Spiders
extended scholarship offers.
Most of those schools were pursuing Tillman as a defensive cornerback
because of his speed, which has been measured at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard
10.7 over 100 meters.
But the Pirates may see Tillman as another Henry, the ex-Clinton High star
who completed his eligibility last fall as ECU’s No. 2 all-time rusher.
Henry was drafted by
the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in April.
“He’s another Leonard Henry, that’s exactly what he is,’’ Brill said. “He’s
got those long arms, and that stiff arm that we teach. As a matter of fact,
we teach that
because we saw Leonard do it in high school. Robert is able to keep people
off his body by doing that.
“And he’s just so doggone fast. He’s the total package. He can catch the
ball, too. He had five touchdown catches last year.’’
Tillman describes his running style as “straight up running.’’
“There’s not a lot of shakes and bakes,’’ Tillman said. “I use my speed to
get outside. I don’t do a lot of fancy moves, unless I have to.’’
Juniors Art Brown and Marvin Townes are expected to replace Henry as the
fullback position in ECU’s one-back set this fall. Beyond those two players,
the Pirates have only one underclassman currently listed at that position.
That’s incoming freshman Markeith McQueen from East Manatee, Fla.
McQueen, a 5-10, 175-pounder, was a late addition to ECU’s recruiting Class
of 2002. He signed in May after achieving academic qualifying results.
McQueen rushed for 1,740 yards to earn second-team all-state honors as a
junior. McQueen also relies heavily on speed. He finished fourth in the
state as a junior in
the 200-meter dash.
“He’s an impact player,’’ Lakewood coach Faust DeLazzer said. “It took some
time for him to learn how to read blocks. Sometimes early in his career he’d
into people instead of avoiding them and using his speed.
“Last year he became a really good running back. Two years ago he was a
track guy playing football. Last season, he was a football player.’’
Tillman welcomes the competition with McQueen, and is excited about becoming
“I liked everything about the place,’’ Tillman said. “It felt like home to
Tillman becomes the second South Robeson player in four years to choose the
Pirates. Ex-Mustang Vonta Leach signed with ECU in 1999 and will be a junior
linebacker with the Pirates next fall.
The addition of Tillman gives East Carolina two known verbal commitments. He
joins Williamston offensive lineman Michael Horner, who committed last
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