Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman, Darius Leonard and the sweet science of forcing fumbles – the athletic


When Colts general manager Chris Ballard selected South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard in the 2018 draft, he texted Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman. which he championed as a zone scout before the 2003 draft.

“We just found the linebacker version of you,” Ballard wrote to Tillman, who is now a Chicago-based FBI agent.

Today, Tillman watches Leonard when he can, and he’s struck by the similarities. Leonard is taller, of course, a linebacker rather than a defensive back, but both men have unusually long arms and remarkable hand-eye coordination abilities.

Tillman is the father of “Peanut Punch”, using boxing techniques to separate the ball from the ball carrier. He forced 44 fumbles over his 13-year career and 168 games. Leonard, who already has four this season and is hoping the “Peanut Punch” will one day be known as the “Maniac Knockout,” forced 13 fumbles in 52 games.

“I see players doing it all the time, looking at Darius last week (against the Jets), it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about,'” Tillman said. “I wish everyone would do it. It’s effective. It works.

“What’s the statistic? If you are more of one in turnovers, will you save 70 percent of the time? Plus-two, 80 percent. Take-out, they count. If you don’t have the power to hit people hard enough to get the ball out, and I was a good tackle but not the hardest DB, you have to find another way. So I hit him.


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