JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 29, 2003) - East Tennessee State senior All-America defensive back Tony Tiller (Lithonia, Ga.) has been selected to participate in the inaugural I-AA College football All-Star Classic.
The game will be played at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday evening, December 30. It will be televised nationally by TFN, The Football Network, a year-round cable network devoted to all forms of football programming.
Tiller is on the Buck Buchanan Award watch list for the best defensive player in Division I-AA football after two and a half seasons of tremendous defense for the Bucs. He was named the second-best cornerback in I-AA going into the 2003 season by The Sports Network and also earned first-team Preseason All-America honors from the organization. A two-time All-Southern Conference honoree, Tiller has 15 tackles this season, one tackle for a loss, two interceptions, five passes broken up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He intercepted two passes and broke up another last Saturday against Western Carolina.
The selected players were seniors who were chosen by a committee of coaches, administrators and media from the conferences. An additional 50 will be named in October to complete the rosters.
Participating conferences include the Atlantic 10, the Big Sky Conference, the Big South Conference, the Gateway Football Conference, The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Northeast Conference, the Ohio Valley Conference, the Patriot League, the Pioneer Football League, the Southern Conference, the Southland Conference, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The teams will compete as two squads named for Eddie Robinson, the legendary coach of I-AA powerhouse Grambling State University, and the late Walter Payton, a product of I-AA Jackson State who went on to star for the Chicago Bears. The players will be divided into the two teams as the game approaches in order to form evenly competitive teams.
"We are excited by these initial choices, and really gearing up to make this a first class event," said Craig Tartasky, Sr. VP, TFN Events and Chairman of the All-Star Classic Committee. "When you consider that athletes like Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Kurt Warner, Wayne Chrebet, Hall of Famer John Stallworth, and Terrell Owens were Division I-AA athletes, it is reasonable to assume that the 2003 All Star Classic will bring several great players to the nation's attention for the first time. Those athletes never had a chance to compete in a game like this."
East Tennessee State returns to action on Saturday afternoon against SoCon rival Appalachian State at 3:30 p.m. from Kidd-Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. The game will be televised by TFN, visit www.footballnetwork.com for information on availability.