Harker Heights football player Jaquan Tillis is entering his third season as a member of the Knights’ varsity team with two-a-days set to begin Aug. 14.
Herald reporter Clay Whittington recently spoke with the standout receiver about the upcoming season, his offseason and his personal goals before graduating.
What are the emotions like with less than two weeks until practices begin?
I’m getting really excited. The time is getting closer and closer for me to start my senior year and becoming one of those lead guys, who help get everybody else ready for the season. We have a young team, and a majority of the guys haven’t played a snap of varsity football, but I think we’ll be mentally and physically prepared. I think it is going to be a great season, and with two-a-days coming up — that’s really what everyone has been waiting on.
Knowing this is your last year at Harker Heights, does it feel different heading into two-a-days?
Definitely. This feels a lot different than when I was a sophomore on varsity. Coming in as a sophomore and coming in as a senior are two different things. As a sophomore, there were juniors and seniors I looked up to, and they paved the way for me, telling me what to do, because as a sophomore, I didn’t know anything. Now, it’s my turn to become that leader for everybody and tell the guys everything they need to know.
Is that a role you are looking forward to assuming?
Yes, I’ve always been looking forward to this. Obviously, my sophomore year, I couldn’t do it, but I felt like for at least part of my junior year, I was being a leader on and off the field. So, I feel like my last year is going to be a good one, and I’m ready to give back.
Have you been doing anything over the summer to prepare, so you are ready to go when two-a-days begin?
Since school let out, all I’ve been doing is preparing. I’ve been doing all the little things like eating right and taking care of my body, because I know it is going to be a long season. Still, it is going to fly by quickly, so the key is to take it one game at a time, and everybody should be good to go.
Is there anything specific you want to accomplish as a player before graduating?
I have so many goals it is crazy. I have personal goals and team goals, but one of my team goals is to make the playoffs, and just like last year, we want to come into district on a high note. As far as personal goals, I want to establish myself as someone to depend on when we need a first down or something. I’m willing to run the ball, receive the ball or even play defense, because I can be a defensive threat to. I just want everybody to know I will come through for them.
How meaningful is this season for you considering it’s the last time you will suit up for the Knights?
It’s very important for me to have a good season. I’ve already received offers to play in college, but it is still important for me to give it all that I’ve got and put everything on the line, because this is my last year at Harker Heights. I’ll never get to play high school football again even though I’ll get to play in college. But anything can happen, so I’m just going to try to go out with a bang.