This year’s coaching piece took some thought, as Mel Tucker’s staff was largely unchanged after their first season in East Lansing. As is our wont, some of the Spartan fanbase have already (already!) demanded the head of offensive coordinator Jay Johnson on account of last year’s -
/consults detailed statistical tables and advanced metric reference pages
- very stinky bad offense, but of course, that irrationally-demanded firing did not happen.
What did happen is Mike Tressel, one of the two holdovers directly from the last Dantonio staff (Harlon Barnett had previously left for Florida State before being tabbed by Tucker), left his position as safeties coach to become defensive coordinator for Luke Fickell at Cincinnati. Having taken a demotion from his position under Dantonio to stay on with Tucker, that’s an easy decision to understand.
And so, making his first staff replacement as Michigan State head coach, Mel Tucker turns to a familiar face in Travares Tillman.
Tillman, a Georgia native, attended Georgia Tech and was a 2nd-round pick by the Bills to start an eight-year, four-team NFL career.
His coaching career has shown a quick progression up the ranks - he went from an assistant high school coach in Savannah (2012-15) to a grad assistant and then quality control staffer at Georgia (2016-18).
When Mel Tucker left Georgia’s defensive coordinator job to take the Colorado head gig after the 2018 season, he took Tillman with him and made him his defensive backs coach. Tucker decamped for East Lansing after one year in Boulder, but with a few former Mark Dantonio assistants carrying over in the transition, Tillman stepped back into a senior defensive assistant role in 2020.
Given that leap of faith in accepting a demotion to stay with Tucker, it’s not surprising Tillman was Tucker’s first choice when a full assistant job became available.
Substantively, there’s a fairly short resume to parse over here. Tillman did directly coach Thorpe Award-winning CB DeAndre Baker at Georgia and was part of some national title-contending teams, but in a less-prominent role.
It’s been no secret that Tucker’s style places much more emphasis on national recruiting. With his background, Tillman will plainly be putting in some work in his native Peach State, and led the recruitment of ‘22 S Malik Spencer already.