On Wednesday morning, three-star outside linebacker Marcus Tillman Jr. officially inked his pledge to the Texas Longhorns. The Orlando (Fla.) Jones product plans to enroll in January to get a jump start on his college career.
After attending the Texas Stars at Night camp back on July 27, Tillman left with an offer and committed to the Longhorns the following day, returning to his home state a Texas pledge that weekend.
Since then, Tillman never wavered with his commitment before taking his official visit over the weekend and then signing with the Horns at his first opportunity.
Tillman is ranked as the nation’s No. 439 prospect and the No. 22 outside linebacker, per 247Sports Composite. According to his ESPN profile, which has Tillman ranked as a four-star prospect, he recorded a 4.85 40-yard dash, a 4.30 20-yard shuttle, and a 35-inch vertical leap at a regional camp for The Opening.
Depth is currently the most important need at the linebacker position. With linebackers Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler departing after this season, there will be some voids to fill at the linebacker position. Edge linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch and Malcolm Roach return as seniors, though.
Tillman will be joined by No. 3-ranked junior college outside linebacker Caleb Johnson and four-star inside linebackers DeGabriel Floyd and David Gbenda as the incoming linebackers for next season.
“Coach Orlando is real,” Tillman told 247Sports EJ Holland. “He tells you how and what it’s going to be, and his style fits me playing on the edge.”
Edge players are key factors for the amount of success produced in Todd Orlando’s defense. His scheme relies on solid edge play especially against teams with dual-threat quarterbacks. At 6’1 and 220 pounds, Tillman will fit right in Orlando’s 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker.
Throughout his high school years at Orlando Jones, Tillman played all around at the linebacker position. He is a rangy linebacker that excels in pursuit, tackles well in space, and presents some coverage skills, too. Tillman is athletic enough to run with skill players on short-coverage routes. His long, rangy body gives him an advantage in coverage.
Often times this season, McCulloch and Roach were a liability in coverage against running backs and tight ends. While they still have a season left of eligibility, developing more complete edge linebackers should be a focus of improvement for this defense. Tillman comes in with the skill sets, maximum eligibility, and traits to work around for that.
As an early enrollee, Tillman will have the chance to impress the coaching staff and compete for freshman snaps from day one. The new four-game redshirt rule presents major playing time opportunities for freshmen, especially for those that enroll early.