Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Tillery Ready to Lead

August 11, 2017
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Jerry Tillery is ready to put the mistakes of last season behind him. He was very mature in handling the issue when it came up at Wednesday player availability.

“It was a mistake that I made,” stated Tillery. “I regret it and it is something that I am not going to let define me as a person or as a player. I have gotten a lot better since that moment and my maturity and how I play the game. It’s something I have learned from and I hope that my teammates have seen me make that mistake and learned from it as well.”

The ‘it’ Jerry is referring to is the stomp on the USC player which was out of frustration after a season that no one expected. Tillery was very impressive and displayed a sense of maturity in talking about the situation that demonstrates that he has moved past the situation and is focusing on this season.

“I think I can play anywhere on the DL,” Tillery explained. “I have the skillset to do that. I think that wherever my coaches think that I can best help the team, best make plays, that’s where I am going to put my focus. I am going to attack everything.”

Rick Kimball/ISD Jerry Tillery
To develop this skillset, some offseason work was necessary both on and off the football field. Off the field, Jerry did an internship with a hedge fund in Dublin, Ireland. It’s yet more proof that Notre Dame is truly a 4 for 40 school. But on the field, Tillery and Quenton Nelson worked together.

“He’s big and strong and pushing big weights,” Tillery said. “It encourages me to push my numbers.”

Tillery went on to explain how the workouts made him more explosive and helped him develop strength, both traits that Coach Kelly specifically highlighted in his press conference this week. Tillery is clearly a man on a mission. Where is that mission headed?

“My goal is to play in the NFL,” stated Tillery. “I am working hard every day to make those dreams come true.”

This goal seems to drive Jerry every day and it has helped him develop as a leader on the defensive line, a skill Jerry learned from Sheldon Day. Tillery comments that he still talks with Sheldon, as they became famous for doing on the Showtime series.

“I think so, I think other guys look up to me and that motivates me to get better and come each day and work hard,” he said.”

Part of what makes Tillery an effective leader is that he has made mistakes and players can relate to that. He uses this experience to his advantage to help the young defensive line players develop.

“They’re great, the young players are absorbing the defense quickly and I think they can contribute this fall,” Tillery said of the freshmen defensive linemen.

Notre Dame may need some freshman to contribute on the thin defensive line this season, but the defense as a whole has made impressive strides and is currently ahead of the offense according to Brian Kelly himself.

“Our new workout schedule has made all of us stronger on the DL,” stated Tillery. “It translates into the grittiness that it takes to play this position. I think it helps us battle the OL.”

Tillery and the defensive line appear to be developing grit and that can only mean good things for the Notre Dame defense and the team as a whole.
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