By LARRY VAUGHT
Cornerback Fred Tiller doesn’t enjoy losing, and didn’t expect Kentucky to lose when he came here from Clinch County (Ga.).
“I just came to play and win. I didn’t expect to go 2-10 last year. I never lost that many games in high school. I expected to win, and still do,” said the sophomore cornerback, who had seven tackles and one fumble recovery in last week’s loss to Western Kentucky. “I am doing my best this year to stay on the field and win games. Coach (Mark) Stoops, I think, is a great head coach and has a good staff under him, so we are going to win a lot of games this year. I still believe that.”
Tiller, who played in 11 games last year when he had 27 tackles, was a three-year starter and receiver in high school. He was an all-state pick as a senior and had 31 catches for 736 yards and nine scores and made 65 tackles and five interceptions as a junior when his team went 15-0 and won the state championship. He was all-region in basketball and also ran track.
He worked his way to No. 1 on the depth chart during preseason camp and will make his second start Saturday against Miami (Ohio).
“Everybody should be a leader. Everybody out there now should know every call because they are way easier. We should know what to do,” said Tiller. “The calls this year are way easier and you can catch on to them faster than last year. Last year they were too complicated. There were so many calls we had to know. It was hard. We had a senior safety that knew all our stuff. He would try to give us all our calls so we could play.
“I have improved a lot. I have gotten bigger, faster and stronger. I know all my plays, all my stuff. I don’t know what the defensive line and linebackers are doing and stuff like that most of the time, but I know what the safeties and corners are doing.”
Tiller did worry about what would happen to him with the coaching change.
“I thought they would come in and not give us (returning players) no look because the people that they were recruiting would be their guys. Some people believe that the people they recruit are their guys, but it is totally different with this staff. They are going to play the best people, the most physical, that give effort. Just going to play and fight to win is what they want you to do, and what we should do,” Tiller said.
Tiller feels he’s equally good at tackling and covering the pass.
“I like to tackle. I had a lot of tackles in high school. I had the most tackles on the team as a freshman coming in last year with 27. But my cover skills are way better this year, too,” he said. “If I have to tackle, I will tackle. If I have to cover, I will cover. Blitzing, I do that, too. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I am on the field helping my team.”
Tiller says his only worry is helping Kentucky improve and win games.
“I am just trying to better my team, be a better person and stuff like that. Just try to have a breakout season and help my team win,” he said. “We have to be more physical. Just flying to the ball, hitting the person with the ball and making tackles for loss and intercepting. Just making plays to win. That’s what we have to do and what I have to do because losing is no fun.”