Notre Dame football recruiting: OL Tillery becomes first 2015 commit

South Bend Tribune

Jerry Tillery’s long drive to South Bend ended Thursday night at Notre Dame Stadium.

Following 12 straight hours in the car, a memorable visit to Notre Dame commenced.

Two days later, Tillery left campus as the first football recruit verbally committed to Notre Dame’s 2015 class.

He shared his commitment publicly Saturday afternoon on Twitter.

“I am committed to the University of Notre Dame. #GoIrish,” he tweeted.

The 6-foot-7, 312-pound offensive lineman from Shreveport, La., started his visit with dinner in Notre Dame Stadium’s press box with Irish players and coaches.

Over the next two days, Tillery was able to experience the program he’s been cheering for since childhood.

Before visiting, Tillery explained his affinity for Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame tends to attract pretty adept people to their campus,” Tillery said. “Notre Dame’s probably not for everyone. Not just anyone can succeed at Notre Dame, so they have to have pretty special people to come there. That’s the kind of thing I want to be a part of. I’m looking forward to this whole process.”

The two days at Notre Dame were a dream come true for Tillery.

“I learned that it’s really everything I had dreamed about and more,” Tillery said Saturday night. “Notre Dame is truly something special. I just had to go ahead and make the commitment to Notre Dame.”

Friday was filled with a tour of campus and Saturday brought the Lineman Challenge camp, where Tillery was able to compete with 2014 offensive line commitments Alex Bars, Jimmy Byrne and Quenton Nelson and receive coaching from Harry Hiestand.

“I think I did great. That’s what all the coaches said,” Tillery said. “To see how they coached was wonderful.”

Tillery, a junior-to-be at Evangel Christian, ranks as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the 2015 class according to The recruiting service also lists Tillery as the No. 74 player overall.

CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming suggested Tillery’s recruitment could become a na-tional race before his visited Notre Dame this weekend.

“He’s technically one of the best around,” Lemming said. “He’s got a lot of offers. He’ll be one of the more heavily-recruited offensive linemen in the country and he’s a great kid. When I talked to him he really seemed to be a Notre Dame-type guy.”

Tillery planned to give a chance to the other programs that have offered him — such as Texas A&M, Stanford and Ole Miss — but any doubt about his passion for Notre Dame was removed Saturday when Tillery and his parents entered the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

“After seeing that, I knew it was something that was meant to be,” Tillery said. “It was awesome.”

He then met with the Irish coaching staff and became the first 2015 recruit to commit to head coach Brian Kelly.

Tillery plans to enroll early in January of 2015. When he does, he would become the first player from Louisi-ana to join Notre Dame’s team since New Orleans cornerback Albert Poree did in 1998.

In the meantime, Tillery said his focus will be on graduating early, winning a state championship and helping build a foundation for the rest of the Notre Dame 2015 recruiting class.

“I think I can get in and lead our class,” Tillery said. “We’ll be great and do some good things at Notre Dame.”

Staff writer Tyler James: | 574-235-6214

Jerry Tillery, an offensive lineman recruit from Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian Academy, committed to play for Notre Dame in 2015.