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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Senior dreams for the big leagues

From little league to sessions with the NFL, 
football has always been in Tillman's blood

By Shirin Etemadi
The Daily Cougar

Former Cougar football player and senior Bobby Ray Tillman created big dreams at a little age. Being the baby of the family, the nine-year-old boarded the train to little league football. 

Tillman attended Memorial High School in Houston where he was a known athlete inside and outside the district. During his four years, he played running back for the Mustangs and helped his team gain plenty of yards throughout the seasons as his parents sat back and smiled while watching every game.

Growing up, he idolized Bo Jackson, and during his senior year at MHS, Tillman became unyielding about his decision to play football during college.

Senior and former Cougar has grown up playing football in Houston from high school (Memorial) to UH and has dreams of eventually playing with the Texans.
Nathan Lindstrom/The Daily Cougar

"Bobby was an exceptional athlete," Rene Rosales, a coach at MHS and 1984 UH alumnus, said. "He was one our best running backs. We used to kid ourselves on the staff that all we had to do was give him the ball and he would make something positive out of an offensive play."

In 2000, Tillman graduated from MHS in hopes of continuing his love for the game. With three older sisters and an older brother, Tillman did not want to leave his family in Houston to continue his education.

"In high school, I was committed to Nebraska, but I didn't want to go that far away," Tillman said. "I like Houston a lot, and I wanted to be close to home."

It was in the spring of 2000 when Tillman received the news that he had been accepted to UH with a scholarship to play. Tillman embarked on UH where he began his college career.

Off the field, Tillman focused on his academics and chose a psychology major with a sociology minor. 

On the field, Tillman played cornerback in 2001 where he met his teammate and friend Joe Clay (defensive end). Tillman returned to play running back in the next season where he set in motion his desire to play professionally.

"An athlete has the ‘believe' that he can achieve his goal and be willing to work harder than anyone else to accomplish that goal," Rosales added.

Through challenging times, Tillman said it seemed easy to quit, especially during the spring where it was just practice for the next year and no games. Tillman stayed alert and was driven by reminiscing about his football days at UH remembering his most memorable game. 

"(Over the years,) I learned to be a team player and learned how to work with people really well," Tillman said. "(I remember) in 2003, we played Michigan at an away game, and there were so many fans there. It was crazy." 

With 18 hours away from his diploma, Tillman hopes to obtain his degree within one year. Although he's no longer playing at UH, Tillman relieves stress and stays in shape by working out with Clay at Plex Sports and Rehab, a place where professional and amateur athletes go work out. 

To relieve pressure, Clay said the players would go bowling, hang out and go to parties or barbecues hosted at each other's homes. 

Tillman's ambitions are still yearning for more as he hopes to play professionally in the NFL.

"I have distant family that made it into the NFL Hall of Fame like Eric Dickerson and Dexter Manly, who played defensive end for the Redskins," said Tillman. 

Last week, Tillman worked with affiliates of the Green Bay Packers for a workout session.

"During the workout, they come to see certain players and they'll time you in the 40-yard-dash, do position drills and do work in other areas and eventually look at the film," said Tillman.

If a player is chosen after there, they must still go through training camp as another form to excise players. 

This week, Tillman will venture to Dallas to have a workout session with the Cowboys. Tillman encourages young kids with the same dreams to start young and begin training in camps. 

As for his future, the 5-foot-11-inch, 210-pound Tillman says he'd love to play for the Texans.

"I went to MHS and UH, and I have a lot of fans (my family) here. I don't want to make it to the NFL just to say I made it into the NFL. I wouldn't want to be a benchwarmer. I want to break records and be in the hall of fame.

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