Thirteen years ago today, Pat Tillman lost his life while serving his country. While there are plenty of stories today that are looking at Tillman’s drive to join the Army Rangers after the 9/11 attacks and his time with the Arizona Cardinals, I thought it would be good to look back on his high school career.
Pat Tillman Stadium
Tillman played football at Leland High School in San Jose, California where he led the school to a CIF Central Coast Section championship in 1993. His spirit lives on at Leland with the team’s home field being named in his honor — Pat Tillman Stadium.
In high school, Tillman, who was told at one point in his life he was too small to play football, wore No. 42 for the Leland Chargers, playing running back and safety. Below you can watch highlights of Tillman in action on the high school gridiron.
How determined was Tillman as a high school player?
Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Layden wrote the following about Tillman in 1997 when he was playing at Arizona State in an article entitled A Cut Above Pat Tillman, Arizona State’s Height-Loving, Tree-Swinging, Book-Cracking Linebacker, is the Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of.
As a senior safety-tailback-kick returner at Leland High in San
Jose, Tillman so detested leaving the field that once, after his
coach pulled the starters at halftime of a first-round playoff
romp, he took the field for the second-half kickoff and ran it
back for a touchdown. The coach, Terry Hardtke, confiscated
Tillman’s helmet and shoulder pads and put them under a bench
lest Tillman get the urge to score again.