Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery apologizes for actions in USC game

IRISH STEW

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Jerry Tillery drew the ire of Notre Dame and Southern Cal supporters alike on Saturday.

In two instances in the fourth quarter, the Irish defensive tackle made contact with Trojan players laying on the ground after the play. 

The first came when Tillery appeared to nudge the head of running back Aca'Cedric Ware, who momentarily laid motionless after being hit hard by safety Nicco Fertitta. 

The second came when Tillery stomped on the ankle of offensive tackle Zach Banner following USC's final touchdown of the game. Tillery was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his interaction with Banner.

On Monday night, Tillery shared an apology on Twitter.

"I want to take full responsibility for my actions on Saturday," Tillery wrote. "I am truly sorry. I acted in a way that was out of character for me. What I displayed in those two instances were completely unbecoming and not indicative of the kind of player or person I am. My actions in those two instances do not represent what my family or Notre Dame has molded me to be. I want to especially apologize to Aca'Cedric, Zach, their families and anyone else affected by what I did. I assure you I will learn and grow from this moment and become a better man because of it."

Ware responded to Tillery's tweet with "Respect bro."

Banner also chimed in. "Mistakes happen bro," he wrote. "I'm good, Ced's good. You earned my respect from your apology. Take care."

The social media response on Saturday night was a bit different. He received hundreds of Twitter messages many of which included salty language.

"Not sure why or how they didn't toss 99 for that," former Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. tweeted, referencing Tillery's jersey number. "Can't have it."

"@JerryTillery when and if I ever see you it's on sight!!!" former USC safety Gerald Bowman tweeted at Tillery.

Notre Dame pulled Tillery from Saturday's game following the penalty. Any other disciplinary action has not been addressed publicly.

"Jerry has to be accountable for his actions every single day," head coach Brian Kelly said after the game Saturday. "Jerry’s a good kid. If he made a mistake, we’ll hold him accountable for that mistake. Jerry’s a very smart kid.”

Tillery was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl last season for a violation of team rules. Earlier this year, he made headlines when it was discovered he had "liked" tweets suggesting Les Miles should replace Kelly as Notre Dame's head coach.

Notre Dame defensive lineman Jarron Jones, who ended his Irish career on Saturday, offered some advice for Tillery after the game. He was seen talking to Tillery on the sidelines following the incident.

“You just can’t do stupid things like that,” Jones told reporters after the game. “That’s going to reflect on you as a player. That’s going to reflect on your character. You don’t want to do anything like that. He needs to be more disciplined.

“I understand it’s the heat of the moment and we were down big and emotions can flare, especially against our rival. But he just has to be smarter than that. He has to grow up quickly.”

About Saturday's game: pic.twitter.com/rHPcNbKG0B

— Jerry Tillery (@JerryTillery) November 28, 2016

Respect bro https://t.co/qZQ4F2I1ey

— ced (@ware_ced) November 28, 2016

Mistakes happen bro, I'm good, Ced's good. You earned my respect from your apology. Take care. https://t.co/9y1L6SqOzi

— Zach Banner (@zachbanner73) November 29, 2016

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery (99) celebrates a stop during the Notre Dame-Michigan State NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN