Home Local Sports REPRESENTING RICHMOND: Harrington, Tillman enjoy sharing field at Campbell

REPRESENTING RICHMOND: Harrington, Tillman enjoy sharing field at Campbell

Former Raiders D'Marcus Harrington (24) and C.J. Tillman (34) are proud to represent Richmond County as teammates at Campbell. (Photos courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. — Much like they were when they were high school teammates, D’Marcus Harrington and C.J. Tillman are forces to be reckoned with at the Division I level.

Trading their green and gold jerseys for the colors of Campbell University, Harrington and Tillman have continued to blaze the trail of former Richmond Raider football players finding success on the gridiron in the college ranks.

For both, their relationship reaches beyond that of the defensive huddle, as Harrington (RSHS, 2020) and Tillman (RSHS, 2021) consider one another a “brother” on and off the field. 

Living together as roommates this year, the pair of Campbell defensive players have respectively put together strong showings this season. Harrington is a redshirt sophomore defensive back and Tillman is a sophomore linebacker.

While both players have continued to grow in their respective roles, Harrington and Tillman understand the necessity of putting the team first.

“My season is going really well, and as a team we started off good,” Tillman said. “In the middle of the season we struggled a little bit, but we’re still trying to really find ourselves and shape the program how we want it to be.”

Harrington echoed that by saying, “We’re a young team and as a whole we want to find our identity. But the potential to be great is there and we’re continuing to get better and improving from last year.”

He added that his season is also going well and that he doesn’t always focus on the statistics. 

Harrington noted he’s “getting used to several positions” playing at corner, in the nickel defense and at strong safety, and that his main objective is to “not allow a lot of catches and learn more about the game.”

C.J. Tillman (34) holds up the football following a play earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

Campbell is currently 4-6 overall with a 2-3 record in Big South Conference action. Starting the year by winning four of their first six games, the Camels have dropped four straight decisions.

Following a season-opening win over The Citadel on Sept. 1, Tillman earned the first of two Big South Conference “Defensive Player of the Week” recognitions this season. In that game, he had 11 tackles, a fumble recovery and forced a fumble.

A 34-28 win over Charleston Southern on Oct. 8 landed Tillman another honor, seeing him collect a career-high 12 tackles and 1.0 tackle-for-loss.

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“It’s big to get recognized,” Tillman, a criminal justice major, explained. “Going into this season I wasn’t picked for any preseason all-conference teams so that put a chip on my shoulder. Those performances were a statement that I work really hard and that my work is paying off.

“I’m making the best of my opportunities here,” he added. “Whether that’s extra reps in the weightroom, watching film or meeting with coaches, my intent to be the best is what drives me. My motor is I think I can make any and every play, which motivates me to hustle to the ball.”

Through nine games played, Harrington has collected 17 total tackles (11 solo, 6 assists) and has recorded a season-high three tackles five different times. He also has 0.5 tackles-for-loss, recorded an interception against North Carolina A&T and has broken up two passes.

At linebacker, Tillman has registered 66 total tackles this fall (44 solo, 22 assists) and has notched 10+ tackles in three games. He’s added 4.5 tackles-for-loss, earned a quarterback sack against Gardner-Webb and has one interception, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

D’Marcus Harrington (24) defends a wide receiver during a game against East Carolina on Sept. 17. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Despite playing two different positions on defense, Harrington and Tillman have used their friendship to help each other get better. Over the summer, Tillman said the two teammates worked out daily in the heat and that Harrington “helped me improve my footwork to move like a DB.”

When they line up against opposing offenses, both former Raiders said it’s a surreal feeling to see their high school teammate sharing the field.

“It’s pretty cool that we’re able to be teammates at Campbell,” Harrington, who’s studying sports management, said. “Having C.J. here reminds me of home and playing for the Raiders. 

“It’s great to know we came from the same place and that we’re able to represent Richmond County. We’re not just on the team, but we’re making big contributions on the field.”

Tillman, who was named a Phil Steele Freshman All-American last year, agreed that the shared experience is cool, adding that, “He’s my brother. When I see him on the same field, I’m motivated to play for him and I know he’s playing for me, too. We really enjoy being teammates.”

The Camels will conclude their regular season with a road game at Delaware State (5-5) on Saturday.

“The ultimate goal for us moving forward is to win not just a conference championship, but an (FCS) national championship,” Harrington closed. “We’ll take each week one game at a time.

“I hope to continue to get better and make plays — turnovers, tackles, whatever it takes to help the team be successful.”

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.