Tillman’s long-awaited comeback on pause

FAMU running back Eddie Tillman III in action against Fort Valley State. Photo courtesy Tillman

As we all know, theMid-Eastern Athletic Conference has suspended fall sports, including football. To many students at FAMU, this means they wont be able to enjoy homecoming.

But to Eddie Tillman III, this means his college football career is still on pause after his recent recovery.

I was extremely prepared but I had to just swallow the truth that we might not even play this season,” Tillman said.

Growing up in New Orleans, football was Tillmans joy. In high school along with being a member of the National Honor Society, he was the running back at McDonogh 35 Senior High School. There he had 99 carries, 10 touchdowns, and more than 1,000 yards rushing.

During his junior year Tillman got his first offer at Oregon State, then his senior year he got an offer at Prairie View. But once FAMU showed interest in recruiting him, he started to lean towards becoming a Rattler. On signing day, he committed to FAMU.

Being a red-shirted freshman, Tillman was able to get in only four games when he first got to “the Hill.” Sophomore year he had put in work all spring and summer so this was meant to be his year of redemption.

During the second game of the season against Fort Valley State, Tillman ran a play and got tackled down on his knee. He dislocated then relocated his hip causing a fracture in his acetabulum, taking him out of the game and the remainder of the season.

To his peers, Tillman took this setback like a champ. His high school coach from New Orleans, Cornell Williams, said he handled it fairly well.

He was upset because it was a possible career-ending hip injury,” Williams said. I just told him to keep the faith and thats what he did.”

During his healing process, Tillman said that FAMU did not provide him with any physical therapy. However, he had a mentor from back home, Arrid Hansellto help him with treatment.

If I didn’t have him Id probably still be recovering from my hip,” Tillman said.

After fully recovering from the injury Tillman said he had hoped to make his comeback on the field during the 2020 football season. However, COVID-19 had other plans. When asked about his reaction to the cancelling of the season, Tillman said he was disappointed.

They canceled football in the middle of our spring camp,” he said. I had just came off an injury trying to practice and get right just to hear that.”

With all things considered, he hopes the football season will continue this spring.  Now his focus is more geared toward his academics, he said.

Being a pre-physical therapy major, he hopes to maintain nothing lower than a 3.8 GPA. After undergrad, his goal is to get a doctorate in physical therapy.

My number one plan would be to get my degree, then if I make it to the NFL Id get my doctorate in an off-season,” he said.

Just like his perseverance he had to show during his recovery, Tillman says he has to keep the faith that everything will work out for the best.

Between my faith in God, my parents’ encouragement and my pastor reminding me that God always has a plan for me, that right there changed my life,” he said. That experience humbled me back down so I know whatever the future holds — Im gonna be good.”