He didn’t have the senior campaign Tennessee football fans hoped for. However, Cedric Tillman remains one of the great overachievers in the history of the program.
Tillman, who missed most of the season due to an ankle injury, will not play in the Orange Bowl against the Clemson Tigers. He revealed the news Monday night on Twitter.
Regardless of how you may feel in general about players opting out of bowl games, Tillman easily made the right choice here. It’s the best thing for him and Tennessee football.
Nobody would benefit from Tillman’s decision to play in the Orange Bowl. Obviously, Tillman wouldn’t benefit, as he has been banged up and is trying to focus on the NFL Draft.
More importantly, the Vols wouldn’t benefit. They won’t Tillman next year anyway, so it makes the most sense for them to start working, as they have done for most of this year, with Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy at wideout.
Also, given the fact that Tillman has been hurt, it’s debatable just how effective he would be for Tennessee football. After all, he has struggled beating defensive backs in one-on-one coverage since coming back from his injury.
It makes no sense for Vol Nation to pile on Tillman and act like he owes them something. Don’t forget that he made the decision to return in the first place when he didn’t have to.
Last year, Tillman had 64 catches for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns. He easily could have been drafted in one of the higher rounds last year, and he risked his draft stock to come back another year.
Despite being injured, Tillman still played a big role in the season. The Vols don’t beat the Pittsburgh Panthers in overtime without him.
Still, after he got hurt, the coaches used him sporadically. He didn’t play at the Vanderbilt Commodores. It was a rain-soaked game a week after Hendon Hooker got hurt and their playoff hopes were vanquished.
Taking that into account, it’s clear the coaches even though he wasn’t himself. Why, if that’s the case, would it be good for anybody for him to play in the bowl?
As a result, his decision is clearly the right one. He has done everything he could for Tennessee football, and coming back would only take reps away from McCoy and Keyton.