To get to where he wanted in the future, J.P. Tillman had to make a change in the past. At Houston Northland Christian, he started as a freshman but was the biggest fish in a very little pond. Playing at the private school, he shredded defenses with 1,041 yards passing and 217 yards rushing as a junior.
But to become a big-time Division I quarterback, Tillman said he had to make a change. That change came when Tillman transferred to Cypress (Texas) Cy Falls after the end of his junior football season.
The move has allowed him to get acclimated and become the new team leader there at Cy Falls. It's also helped him become a more prime Division I target.
"Coach Thompson is one of the best quarterback coaches I've worked with and that has already helped get me better," Tillman said. "He has us throwing through hoops and into trash cans and doing all the little things that it takes to get better and better."
Tillman, who is 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, already has a lot to work with though. He made a very positive impression at the EA Sports Elite 11 Regional Workout on Saturday in Las Vegas by displaying a very strong and accurate arm. His frame looks like he could easily also be recruited as an athlete, but he said he compares himself to several other big quarterbacks.
"A lot of coaches have said that I am comparable to a Daunte Culpepper or Byron Leftwich," Tillman said. "I am sort of a big body type guy that is able to use his speed and big arm to make plays. I really don't run a whole lot, but when things break down I can prolong plays and make something big happen."
Tillman said Missouri and Duke have been the first to jump on the scholarship list with early offers. Missouri assistant Brian Jones told Tillman that he would be the perfect fit into the Tigers dual-threat quarterback system. At Duke, he said he knows he'd get a great combination of athletics and academics.
"I've made it pretty clear that I want to go to a program that probably isn't going to be competing for a national championship," Tillman said.
"Don't get me wrong, I want to play for a winner. But I'd like to be part of a team that's building and on their way up. I'd like to go to a school that would allow me to be part of that building process, so that way I can really feel like I've accomplished something after I'm finished with college."
Tillman still admits he has an early timetable for a decision and one could come as soon as late July. But at this point he's also waiting to see what other teams are going to step up with scholarship offers.
"I camped at North Carolina, and I'm talking with Northwestern, Texas A&M, Texas Tech," he said. "UCLA also called me in May, and I'd be interested to see what they're about."