Experience is often one of the best learning tools for any skill set, and Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman is using the experience of former Vols Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway to help him get prepared for the upcoming season.
“My first practice I was kind of nervous,” said Tillman on The Slice podcast about meeting some of his future teammates. “But once I was kind of hanging in there, some of the guys like Marquez and Jauan came up to me and said, ‘Hey bro, you’re not half bad.’”
Tillman recently spoke with Kasey Funderburg on The Slice about motivations and lessons drawn from some of his old teammates. The redshirt junior also talked about the ways that he is trying to pass on those lessons himself.
“[Jennings and Callaway] came to work every day,” Tillman said on The Slice. “That’s what I try to tell these young guys. I’m like, ‘Man, we can joke around with this, this, and that, but when we step out on that field I didn’t see Marquez laughing. I didn’t see Jauan laughing. I saw something in their eyes.’”
The way that Tillman’s former teammates such as Callaway, Jennings, and Josh Palmer could lock into the game is a lesson that Tillman himself is trying to pass down to the younger players.
“Quez would yell at you and kind of pull you to the side,” Tillman said explaining how Callaway would pass along constructive criticism. “So I definitely, like with these young guys whenever I have to be that leader, I definitely pull them to the side.”
The 2021 season will be Tillman’s fourth at Tennessee, and the Las Vegas native is setting himself up in more of a leadership position with so many new players and coaches in the system. And one of the ways he is doing so is through a determined work ethic.
“Palmer was one of the hardest workers I have ever seen in this program,” said Tillman to Funderburg. “So definitely I’m thinking, ‘What would Palmer do?’”
Tillman has eight receptions in his career at Tennessee, but his best season came in the shortened 2020 season. The receiver finished outside of the top five on the team for receptions, but also suffered from an underwhelming offense overall. He finished with three receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown.
The upcoming season could provide a much more opportunistic role for Tillman though. Especially with the departure of Josh Palmer and the overhaul to the offense.
“I see how those guys did it and they were successful,” Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman said. “So that’s what I try to model my game after.”