Brandon RB Tillis all business

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Associated Press

Posted on November 22, 2012 at 10:06 AM

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — He's listed on the Brandon High football roster as Davien Tillis.

Hardly anyone calls him that though.

The senior running back is simply known as "Doink."

"Everybody calls me that," said Tillis with a laugh. "Even my teachers. I don't even go by Davien anymore."

He earned the nickname as a kid, he says, because he would always mimic the wrestler Doink the Clown.

That was then. Tillis is all business now, both on and off the field.

"I remember the first time I saw him in a game," said teammate Tayler Polk, a senior linebacker. "He was just running through people. The way he runs is the way he lives his life. It's not flashy, but he gets it done.

"He's just a warrior, a freaking workhorse who works his butt off. He doesn't ask for anything and doesn't want anything. He just goes out and gets it done and sets the tone."

Tillis has rushed for 1,372 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season. He's also caught 33 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's just a tough, hard-nosed runner," said Brandon coach Brad Peterson. "He wants the ball and he understands the game. He's a guy who can run through tackles and he has that spin move that you just can't coach. It's just a natural spin."

On Friday, the Bulldogs host Petal (12-1) in the Class 6A semifinals. A victory would give Brandon a trip to the state championship for the first time.

"Everybody is pumped up for it," said the 5-foot-10, 185 pound Tillis. "It's the biggest game I've played in."

Tillis played a big part in making Friday's much-anticipated rematch with Petal (the Panthers won 24-19 on Oct. 5) possible.

It was Tillis' 22-yard touchdown reception with 30 seconds left last Friday that gave Brandon a breathtaking 14-7 victory over Hattiesburg.

"It was a good play call and I was wide open," said Tillis. "When the ball was in the air, all I was thinking was 'man, I gotta catch it, man I gotta catch it.' I would've felt bad if I didn't catch it because I was so open. It was the biggest touchdown I've ever had."

Peterson hasn't been surprised by Tillis' production this season.

"He finished the season strong last year, so we knew he would be tough," Peterson said. "Earlier this year, we only ran him about 10 or 15 times a game because we knew as the season went on we would need him to carry it 20 to 25 times. He carried it 28 times against Hattiesburg."

Tillis doesn't mind carrying the load off the field either.

He was working two jobs to help his biggest fan, Latasha Willis, pay bills.

"It's hard for us," said Tillis, the oldest of five siblings. "My mom's health doesn't allow her to work, so I just take care of my responsibilities and try to help her out. It's not too bad. I just want to be different from everybody else. I just try to be a better man and I just try to step it up."

Peterson says Tillis' work ethic is nonstop.

"He's just a great guy," said Peterson. "When we get back from a trip on a Friday night, he's going to be the one helping clean the bus. He works a couple jobs to help out at home. He takes care of his family. What more can you ask."

His work ethic has served as an inspiration to his teammates.

"It's crazy to know how great of a person he is," said Polk. "He just takes on so much responsibility and acts like it's no big deal. He is just grinding. He probably doesn't know it, but he inspires me the way he is. It touches me in an incredible way. He just sees the need to step up. He's definitely carrying a load."

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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