Ricardo “Rico” Tillman made Jacksonville University history in the fall of 1998 during the Dolphins inaugural football season. He was the first player to catch a touchdown pass in a JU Dolphins’ uniform. He made history again on November 15, 2014 when his number was retired at halftime during the Campbell game. The only difference is that Rico wasn’t around to celebrate his most recent history making event.
Tillman was stabbed in the spring of 2000 at a local area nightclub after an altercation with a group of men who were harassing the women that were with Tillman and his teammates. When the altercation moved itself outside of the nightclub, Tillman, who was checking on his friends, was stabbed. The murder is still unsolved and his parents have been without answers since that night.
“He’s all I think about,” said Ricardo Tillman Sr., Rico’s father. “I’m happy about this [the jersey retirement] because he’s my only son and he’s going to make history again.”
In past years, the Dolphins have held the no. 8 in high regard and the recipient of the no. 8 jersey have been hand picked by the coaches. The recipient’s have been selected based on their above average football skills, but these skills must be paired with their outstanding character, embodying the man that Tillman was.
“We’ve always tried to honor him by putting one of our best players, great student-athletes, wearing that jersey,” said Kerwin Bell, head football coach. “It’s [Nov. 15] going to be a special day for a special person.”