Focusing on baseball, Gilman's Matt Tilley ready for the next step
Greyhounds senior excels in three sports, but he chose to play baseball at William and Mary
Gilman's Matt Tilley (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun / March 12, 2013)
Such is the life of a three-sport athlete. And he hasn't just participated in football, basketball and baseball -- he has excelled in all three.
He played wide receiver and free safety for the Gilman football team that won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference last fall, served as captain for the basketball team that was one win away from winning its second consecutive MIAA B Conference title in the winter and stars all over the field for the No. 10 Greyhounds in baseball.
Eventually, though, he had to make a choice about his athletic future.
Matt received offers to play football and baseball in college, but he didn't want to split his time between the sports any longer. He wanted to narrow his focus and choose one on which to concentrate. Entering his senior baseball season at Gilman, that's exactly what he did.
"With either path I chose, I think I would have been able to excel, work hard and do big things at the next level," said Matt, who committed to William and Mary to play baseball next year. "But [baseball] is the sport I wanted to pursue. I've been playing it my whole entire life."
Matt's father, Glenn Tilley, figured all along that his son would choose baseball, even though different family members performed in each sport at a high level.
Glenn played football at Princeton, while his brother played at Wake Forest. His wife's brother and nephew both played baseball in the Orioles organization.
While Matt excelled on the football field at Gilman, he didn't even start playing the sport until his freshman year of high school. He grew up around baseball, however.
His father works as the president of Ripken Baseball, and Matt has played the game since he was a child. It shows when he's out in the field, too.
Matt plays both outfield and shortstop, and he also serves as the Greyhounds' closer. Matt describes himself as a gap hitter at the plate, but Sheets said he has the ability to hit for power. He displayed that all-around talent last season, batting .400 with four home runs, 16 RBIs, nine doubles and three triples.
"I love every position," Matt said. "I love being that guy who can be the utility guy and play whatever position you need. Whatever way I can help the team, I'll do it."
His versatility comes from his rare athletic abilities, Glenn said. Matt has the strength and power you'd expect from a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete, but he also has the skills of a much smaller player.
"He plays the skill positions and the speed positions," Glenn said. "Which I think is unique for a kid his size."
That uniqueness is why he had the choice to play both football and baseball in college.
Georgia Tech, Tulane, Navy and Princeton wanted him to play football, while Maryland, Michigan and Rutgers also showed interest. William and Mary, Wake Forest, Brown and Princeton looked at him for baseball.
If he didn't spend large parts of his sophomore and junior seasons on the sideline due to a pair of serious injuries, Matt might have picked football over baseball.
During the summer before his sophomore year at Gilman, he dislocated his right big toe and wasn't able to return to the field until the end of the football season.
Matt recovered to play basketball and baseball, but he developed a stress fracture in his lower back and was sidelined again for 16 weeks. He played wide receiver when he returned in his junior season, but he wasn't able to play safety -- his primary position -- until the MIAA A Conference championship.