Tillman sets goal to make Texas A&M squad

Derrick Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel

Former New Manchester High cornerback Ruben Tillman is going to tryout for the Texas A&M football team later this summer.

The word "can't" is not in Ruben Tillman's vocabulary.

Tillman refuses to let his size, or lack of, stop him from reaching his goals. He was a standout defensive back for New Manchester during his four years at the school.

After earning a full academic scholarship to Texas A&M, Tillman decided to give up football and concentrate full-time on his academics at one of the nation's largest universities.

However, he had a change of plans on a visit to the College Station, Texas, campus early in the spring.

While touring the football facilities, Tillman decided he wanted to give football another try. He contacted the Aggies football staff and will try out for a walk-on spot for the SEC program.

"There is a rich tradition at Texas A&M," Tillman said before doing a workout at New Manchester recently. "I saw all the history and those great facilities and wanted to play football again. I'm going to give it another shot and hopefully make it."

Ask any New Manchester coach and they will tell you their is no doubting what Tillman can do.

"He is a hard worker who has the ability to overcome things," New Manchester assistant coach Ben Ford said. "I would definitely love to see him make the team."

At 5-foot-7, 162 pounds, Tillman would be considered undersized to play in what is considered college football's top conference.

But don't tell that to Tillman, who earned a Posse Scholarship, that he can't do anything.

"I love a challenge," Tillman said. "It is just the way my parents taught me to face everything head on and give it my best. I love proving people wrong. I love being the underdog, and I still want to play football."

Tillman graduated from New Manchester with a 3.6 grade-point average, and was one of the leaders in the school. He earned a Posse Scholarship because of his academic and leadership work.

According to its website, Posse Scholars persist and graduate at a rate of 90 percent and make a visible difference on campus and throughout their professional careers.

And that description definitely fits Tillman, who was a leader at New Manchester.

Tillman was class president for three years and started a leadership group at the school. He was founder of P.R.I.D.E., which stands for Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.

It was a group of upperclassmen students that helped younger classmates that are struggling in the classroom.

"Teachers would identify those students and we tried to help them," said Tillman, who also delivered the graduating class commencement address. "It is something that we are proud of and look forward to helping as many students as possible."

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