Tillery's Travels: How Irish DT Jerry Tillery's globetrotting is making him a better player
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery was a force to be reckoned with last Saturday racking up three tackles and a sack against the Wolverines. The Notre Dame senior is on three preseason watch lists including the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy given to college football's defensive player of the year.
Tillery moved from nose guard to defensive tackle this spring, but it's also the moves he's been making away from football that are setting him up for his future.
Looking at Tillery's Instagram feed is like scrolling through the pages of National Geographic.
"Let's start in North America: Canada, US, Mexico, Guatemala. Then we go to Europe: Ireland, England, France, Poland, Germany, Moldova, I think I'm missing, Istanbul in Turkey. Let's see Senegal, South Africa, Japan, Singapore. I'm forgetting something," Tillery said.
Tillery has globe trotted for pleasure and for business.
"Two summers ago, I worked with a hedge fund in Dublin called Abbey Capital. It's an international hedge fund. They have investments all over the world. It was fun, being there and learning the industry, something I want to get into after college," Tillery said.
This summer, Tillery put his Notre Dame education to practical use
Tillery studied abroad in Asia.
"Japan I love so much. The food, the people, it was all so incredible. I'm studying Japanese, so I got to go there and practice my language skills was a lot of fun," Tillery said.
It's those experiences on the road that are shaping the man he has become when he's back home.
"I think that when you travel, you experience more and that makes you a more well-rounded person with any encounter in life really, so especially at Notre Dame. There are so many people from so many different places that you think you can better relate to those people in that way, so that's how I think I've been able to use my experience," Tillery said.
Well-rounded is the perfect way to describe Tillery
With a vast variety of interests ranging from art appreciation, learning to play the saxophone and even politics - he is the campaign manager for student body president and VP.
He's already earned his bachelor's degree in economics and is taking graduate level courses this fall.
"It forms your opinions on things in life. You meet more people, you can better understand anyone who you meet wherever you may be more empathetic, sympathetic if you've been and experienced things that people go through and I think that's why I do it," Tillery said.
Tillery says he has grown from each of these unique experiences making him a better player as well preparing for a game like he would test.
"You've got to understand a problem and you have to understand an offense and what they're going to do and how you're going to react from moves that you'll make to complete a problem set or to get around a Michigan offensive lineman to sack the quarterback. I think they are similar," Tillery said.
It's paying off in a career high 13 games last season, he set personal bests for solo and assisted tackles, tackles for loss and led the team with 4 and a half sacks.
Tillery says his goal after Notre Dame is the NFL.
When he thinks long term he says he would like to work in finance and live abroad.
While Hawaii is his favorite travel destination, Australia is next on his bucket list.