“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
It's impossible to watch Logan Tuley-Tillman wander around a football field and not hearken back to the The Blind Side, specifically the bit wherein Michael Lewis describes the freak of nature that is the perfect left tackle.
He was wide in the ass and massive in the thighs … he had long arms … he had giant hands, so that when he grabbed ahold of you it meant something. But size alone couldn't cope with the threat to the quarterback's blind side, because that threat was also fast. The ideal left tackle also had great feet. Incredibly nimble and quick feet.
Tuley-Tillman has all of these things, which is why a who's who of college football programs offered him as soon as they found out a man of his particular dimensions existed. He had offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Alabama, and Notre Dame by last January, because frames like his don't come around too often.
ESPN's Michael White: "Long arms and bottom-heavy frame make him an absolute natural at either tackle spot. Showcased exceptional technique and patience in his pass set."
24/7's Clint Brewster: "LTT has outstanding footwork for a guy his size and does a nice job of keeping defenders in front of him. Tuley-Tillman’s upside is unlimited and he will be even quicker once he gets into better shape and sheds some extra pounds off."
24/7's Jason Sapp: "Long body and athletic legs ... Good first kick and reposts his arm well on counter action ... Will work on technique as his body matures and develops, but a high ceiling to be a force on the line ... Wide base."
24/7's Steve Wiltfong: "…has long arms and all the stereotypical things you are looking for in an offensive lineman. If he can keep his weight down, he has a chance to be special.”
ESPN's scouting report praises Tuley-Tillmans "great size and athleticism," "long, broad frame," "very good lower body flexibility, "long arms and nimble feet."
Scout's profile lists "arm length" and "size" as assets and mentions his "good frame with long arms."
Or you could just look at a picture. While the left one is doing something a bit goofy with perspective, without pads it's clear the guy's thighs are wider than his torso. The right is straight on, and also features a wide, wide human:
This is what a left tackle from central casting looks like.
In addition to being a large and fortituously-shaped human, Tuley-Tillman wasn't a slouch on high school fields in Illinois. ESPN's eval has all the stuff about his frame above and is really, really positive on the rest of it:
Tuley-Tillman is a dominant run blocker. He uses his great initial quickness to immediately establish an advantage when drive blocking. His agility and balance allow him to play on his feet in space. He comes off the ball low and hard … displays the foot quickness, agility and balance needed to adjust his feet to quick change of direction movement. … a tough customer who displays a nasty, no quit, finishing attitude.
They remained the highest on Tuley-Tillman throughout his recruitment, again likely because of their fire-and-forget ranking style. Other sites had LTT in the top 50 to start and steadily dropped him for reasons we'll get to in just a moment.
Other evaluators also praised Tuley-Tillman's nastiness, including Rivals's anonymous dude who was obviously an offensive lineman just based on his enthusiasm for hurting people…
Tillman is consistently giving great effort to finish his blocks with cruelty, which is a joy to watch. He stands 6-7 tall and uses his 280-plus pounds to punish defenders. He shows good quickness off the ball and gets into his block quickly on running plays. His foot drive is good and his hand placement is pretty good as well.
Tuley-Tillman has a big nasty streak, great size and always finishes. Coaches want to see a guy make his block, drive, and finish, and Tuley-Tillman does this. He also does a good job of maintaining his hands on guys and keeping them in front of him.
In these highlights, he has great leverage and point of contact. Not that he cannot improve in this area, as every lineman can and should, but he excels at it.
In pass blocking, I really like his kick. He uses this great kick perfectly to allow him to get into position to take on any defender.
LTT "has all of the building blocks and a great opportunity to be something special," says Turley after citing some technical issues that he downplays.
Of course there is the catch. Tuley-Tillman gradually slipped on recruiting rankings as the year went on because his technique issues became more apparent and his weight underwent an alarming swing:
"I'm looking to get add bulk up top, and I'm expecting to make big changes to my body at Michigan," he continued. "I weighed 340 pounds last summer, but I'm down to about 302 pounds right now. I can feel the difference in my quickness, and I like being at the lighter weight."
That was up from about 285 and may have been understating things. Tuley-Tillman is now listed at 285 on Michigan's roster, so he's made the full round trip. If you're trying to be optimistic, Tuley-Tillman's ability to flip a switch and get down to a weight where Michigan would actually like him to put it on instead of take it off is impressive.
“The week I had, it was different because we come from a high school that was 0 and 9,” said Tuley-Tillman. “Not having that high level coaching and being able to be taught how to block, when to block, when to punch and when to do this and that. It was rough and I lost some reps.”
“It was one-on-one pass protection, which is like standing under the rim saying don’t jump, but don’t get dunked on. But it got me better and I appreciate the coaches taking the time to break stuff down one-on-one with me.”
…a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
And that was a good outing for him compared to some earlier efforts. Hemholdt noted($) that he was in "noticeably better shape" at SMSB and did a better job than he did on a "rough" day at the Columbus NFTC.
As a result of the weight and the camps, LTT took a big ol' rankings hit. The Rivals version($):
…added the weight you'd expect of an offensive lineman - he went from 285 pounds to 321 in the course of a single offseason - not all of it was good weight. That is partially on account of a shoulder injury that has prevented him from working as hard in the weight room as he'd like. While his strength was never a question, his agility suffered from the weight gain, and Tuley-Tillman will have to work his way into shape to move back up the rankings.
He did get back into shape. The rankings did not respond, but it did pay off on high school fields despite his terrible, terrible team not being able to do much. Josh Helmholdt caught him as a senior, after the wild swing:
Peoria Manual entered Saturday's game against Peoria with an 0-3 record and dropped this contest 44-0. But in the final minute of the game Tuley-Tillman was still on the field, still blocking all-out to the whistle and still trying to get his team up. Technically we saw a lot of the good things the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Tuley-Tillman showed in the summer: getting into his pass set quickly, utilizing his length, having fast, active hands. But his effort from kickoff to final whistle, especially after playing both ways all game, was the most impressive thing he showed this day. Tuley-Tillman has been knocked for his work ethic at times in the past, but he has really rounded into a leader and a high-motor kid.
Now that he's in a college weight program his weight should go up steadily, not dramatically, until he tops out in the 320 range. Some guys do have problems not blowing up a la Oprah, and fans (read: me) will keep an owlish eye cocked in the direction of the roster for any hints things are getting out of control for the next couple years.
Tuley-Tillman did enroll early. Since he's an offensive tackle destined for a redshirt we didn't get any extra information on him—can't find anything on this site or MLive of importance after January first—other than the highly encouraging 285 pound weight. While that early enrollment isn't going to get him on the field this year, it should accelerate his progress, possibly even to the point where he is a viable option next year.
Etc.:Ohio State fans, man. Helmholdt mentions that another asset for Tuley-Tillman is his left-hand dominance, which he likes in a left tackle… except if Shane Morris is the guy that'll be a detriment to the blindside tackle. I am not looking forward to three years of "but Shane Morris is left handed" when talking about the OL. I'll deal.
Why Schrodinger's Jake Long? Ideal left tackle that needs time and technique to reach a ceiling that's rather distant at the moment. Long is 6'7", 320. LTT will end up there. Long is awesome at football. Tuley-Tillman… ask again later.
Guru Reliability: Pretty good. Camps, but hard to tell much from high school stuff when your team is so dire. Also there's a fairly large split in opinion between the fringe top 100 guys and fringe four star guys.
Variance: Vast. Could be Long 3.0. Could transfer to a MAC school.
Ceiling: Vast. Prototype NFL left tackle who happens to be a long way away.
General Excitement Level: Uh, moderate? I do like the idea of adding a Tuley-Tillman to a lot of high-quality recruits, because if you miss on him oh well and if you hit oh baby. I'll give him a plus for getting all the way back down to 285 after the weight gain.
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
After inevitable redshirt he'll probably be looking up at Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden. Probably. Even if you assume Braden is on track to have a starting tackle job next year, the other one will be an honest-to-goodness battle between Magnuson, Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, and maybe one of the 6'5"-ish guards (Kalis, Samuelson, Bosch) if Michigan is just overflowing on the interior.
Pick a name out of the hat there. If it is Tuley-Tillman that is a great sign, because that means the highest upside guy hacked through a jungle and has come out the other side kicking ass.
Really hoping he reaches that vast ceiling. As you say, prospects of those dimensions do not come along every day. I think the best case senario is the emerges next year a la Taylor Lewan his RS freshman year. Asking a lot, I agree that if LTT can beat out the competition we're probably in line for another ass kicking left tackle. I find it encouraging he was able to get back down to 285 alreday. Shows good motivation; he'll need that to win these position battles. Basically I hope that atom doesn't decay and we get a Jake Long. Much better than a dead LTT.
agreed with this sentiment. the guards we have in the pipeline seem so damn strong 3 deep. the tackles have question marks. tougher position to project because there are so many highly rated guys that are busts. if this kid could develop, would be huge for the program. seems very very raw though, so whether or not he develops seems like anybody's guess.
I don't know. I think with all the (highly rated and potentially outstanding) tackles we have on the roster, playing LT vs. RT won't matter as much. In the pros guys regularly switch (lots of pro linemen were the best lineman on their college team, and as such played LT) between the two, so I think even if he does move it won't be that big a deal.
"Over? Did you say, over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"
The fact we will have 4* and 5*s across the entire line is very exciting. The fact that there are 2 or more 4* and 5*s competing at just about every OL position is just amazing. The fact that we have a 5* RB and a 5*QB sitting behind that line is just... I don't even.... Brady Hoke, man... Brady MF Hoke.
I am not looking forward to three years of "but Shane Morris is left handed" when talking about the OL. I'll deal.
The good news (read: bad news) is that you will only have to deal with it for two years instead of three. Morris will probably be a junior before he has a chance to be the starter at UM with Gardner getting his redshirt and Morris probably being forced to burn his this coming season.
Wow, from a physical standpoint, Tillman has got everything you'd want in a prototypical, future first round pick offensive lineman. I'm not anointing him as one just yet, but the physical attributes are there. Might need to refine his technique, but that comes with time and proper coaching. A redshirt year that is spent in the weight room will do him a world of good.
LTT has definitely slimmed down. At the Spring Game he was in pads and next to Bars on the sideline. LTT looked like a lanky walk-on and when Kalis walked by, LTT looked even scrawnier. I'd say the redshirt is a lock because he's going to need time in the weight room to get that mass back. That being said, even in his slimmed down shape, his height and wingspan, wow. LTT will be an excellent datapoint to judge Funk and the S&C staff by in a few years I think.