From South Bend to South Africa, Jerry Tillery is ready for what’s next

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While in Indianapolis last month for a job interview that is the most unique/intense/absurd/important in pro sports, Tillery met with several NFL teams. One asked Tillery, a defensive tackle from Notre Dame, to make 48 cents with six coins of different denominations. Another quizzed him on his typical dinner attire: shirt tucked in or untucked? (“Usually, I’m a tucker.”) He had casual, unscripted conversations with some teams, and dived deep into football techniques with others.

Then came the staring contest. Tillery can’t recall if his opponent was a coach or a scout, but the other guy won.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“I wear contacts,” he said, “so my eyes dry pretty quickly.”8

There were some layups for Tillery at the NFL combine. One team asked him to name the capital of Australia and then followed up with: Who is Nelson Mandela? Tillery politely answered, although he easily could have countered by asking if they wanted the 60-second response or the 60-minute one.

“I studied institutionalized racism in South Africa, the main figure being Nelson Mandela,” Tillery said. “I probably told them more than they wanted to know.”

Tillery knows a lot of things about a lot of things. He has traveled to many places. His curiosity about people, places and topics is one of his defining traits. He fully threw himself into the college experience at Notre Dame, and threw himself into plenty of quarterbacks along the way.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

The final stats: 18 countries visited, knowledge in subjects ranging from business to psychology to Japanese, 37 games started, 13.5 sacks (a team-high eight last season), four forced fumbles (three last season), an economics degree and a possible first-round NFL draft grade (Tillery is ranked the No. 6 DT and No. 35 overall draft prospect by ESPN Scouts Inc.).

“He’s the quintessential renaissance man,” Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea said.

That’s true, but know this about Jerry Tillery: He wanted to block for Brett Favre before he wanted to visit South African townships, spend weekends in Singapore or learn Japanese. Football came first, set a foundation and ultimately spring-boarded him toward opportunities he never expected.