A lot can change in 365 days.

For Killeen senior Timothy Twilley, it was a change in scenery as he took his athletic talents from running around the track to playing on the football field.

When the Kangaroos coaching staff convinced Twilley to make the switch at the end of his junior year, he was instantly dedicated to the sport, putting on 40 pounds over the summer in order to compete at defensive end.

Despite his inexperience, Twilley signed to play Division I football at Stephen F. Austin on National Signing Day.

“He wasn’t even a starter at the beginning of the season,” Killeen head football coach Neil Searcy said. “Stories like that — of kids never giving up, always fighting through, putting trust in the program and the coaches and all the instruction that he got, and it’s paying off for him — It doesn’t get better than that.”

The defining game of Twilley’s high school career came against Copperas Cove in the second week of the District 12-6A schedule, when Searcy moved Twilley from end to tackle mid-game.

“I never had practice at it,” Twilley said. “Searcy was like, ‘Go ahead and go to defensive tackle for this one play.’

“I was like, ‘Alright, but I don’t know what to do.’”

Searcy’s response was to, “Just go and hit somebody.”

Twilley did as he was told, and during the first play at the new position, he caused a fumble resulting in fellow senior Demarea Brown scooping up the ball for a 35-yard touchdown.

“I was like, ‘This is where it’s at,’” he said.

As collegiate offers started to come in, Twilley always kept in mind what it was he wanted at his next destination: A school that would allow him to keep up with his religious faith, a close coach-to-athlete relationship and somewhere that would set him up for success off the field upon graduating.

Stephen F. Austin checked off each box plus one more.

“As long as I’m close enough to my mom,” he said, “that’s perfect.”

Twilley is thankful for the chance to compete at the next level, and he refuses to take it for granted.

“I’m looking forward to four or five years from now,” he said, “when I’m getting my degree and walking across that stage.”

With little experience beyond last season, Twilley feels blessed to receive a scholarship and hopes to inspire others.

“To anybody out there that wants to do it at the next level,” he said, “it only took a year for me to do it. My best advice is no matter what anybody tells you — they can try to bring you down, tell you that you’re not going to make it — just keep pushing through.

“That way, you can prove your doubters wrong, and then, once you prove them wrong, you can look them in the face and say you did it.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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