PREP FOOTBALL: Collinsville's Tillery, Jones ready for college football leap

Collinsville football players Isaac Tillery and Kaleb Jones signed football scholarships with Birmingham-Southern and Jacksonville State, respectively, on Tuesday. Sitting, from left, are Collinsville football coach Ernie Willingham, Tillery, Jones and assistant coach Riley Edwards; standing, from left, are assistant coaches Jeff Stanley and Chris Conde and assistant principal Bradley Crawford.

COLLINSVILLE — The combination of lineman Isaac Tillery and quarterback Kaleb Jones led the Collinsville football team to great heights in 2019.

As they prepare to go their separate ways as seniors, Tillery and Jones shared a signing day together at Collinsville High School on Tuesday.

Tillery signed a national letter of intent with Birmingham-Southern College, while Jones signed with Jacksonville State University.

“Birmingham-Southern is the place that felt so much like home,” Tillery said. “It’s not only close to home, but the coaches and all the players treat you like family. I was down there just a couple of times and just knew that was the place I needed to be.”

Tillery announced his commitment to BSC on Twitter on March 12.

He helped lead the Panthers into the AHSAA Class 2A state semifinal round for the first time in program history last season, where they lost to eventual state champion Fyffe.

Faulkner University, the University of North Alabama and the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky were a few other possible destinations Tillery was considering, he said.

In his meetings with BSC offensive coordinator Anthony Colucci, Tillery said Colucci told him that he’d be a great fit for either right or left tackle. The position became open after BSC lost three offensive tackles to graduation.

Tillery said he was given a sense that he could potentially be up for a starting spot.

“I will have to show the coaches what I have and work my tail off to be able to get in there and earn a starting spot, if not a second-string spot,” he said.

Tillery said he plans to major in business management or business administration.

After much deliberation this offseason, Jones chose Jacksonville State as his collegiate landing spot. 

“It’s close to home, so my family and friends would be able to come watch me and see me anytime,” Jones said. 

Jones said JSU coaches have listed him as an athlete on the roster and will evaluate him further to see what position best suits him in the system.

Jones was glad to share the signing ceremony with longtime teammate Tillery.

“Knowing him my whole life, growing up playing ball together, it was just great to share that moment with him,” Jones said.

As a senior, Jones earned first-team all-state recognition and DeKalb County’s Player of the Year, as decided by county coaches. He accounted for 3,109 yards of offense and 41 touchdowns as a Panther.

Jones said his only other strong collegiate consideration was Navy.

He has career interests in engineering and wildlife biology.

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