Earlier this season, Rod Tullis had a decision to make.
The Sarasota High junior running back and fullback could sit back and watch his teammates determine the Sailors’ fate, or he could readjust his work ethic and carry the brunt of the Sailors’ offensive attack.
Tullis chose the latter, and, since then, the 16-year-old has developed into a strong offensive weapon.
“The coaches trusted in me, and I started getting more carries,” Tullis says. “I used to be a slacker and I knew I had to step it up. After talking to the coaches, I wanted to do it for the team. You can’t be one dimensional.”
After readjusting his approach to the game, Tullis began to find success on the ground. Tullis has rushed for a little more than 900 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Now, with the Sailors out of playoff contention, Tullis will turn his attention to achieving his goal of rushing for 1,000 yards in a single season, when Sarasota closes out its season Nov. 9, at home versus Bayshore.
“I’ve got to get the job done,” Tullis says.
Tullis began playing flag football when he was 5 years old. He started off as a center before switching over to the defensive line. But his defensive efforts proved to be short-lived after he recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Tullis’ coach at the time moved him to fullback and eventually to running back where he has been playing ever since.
“I love it,” Tullis says of the position. “I love making plays for my team.”
Tullis spent a year playing at Booker High, before transferring to Sarasota last season at the urging of his good friend and former Pop Warner teammate, Chris McKenzie, who plays middle linebacker for the Sailors.
“We grew up together and always played together,” Tullis says of McKenzie. “We’ve been teammates for a long time.”
Following this season, Tullis will spend the offseason preparing for his senior year with the hopes of eventually playing at the next level. Tullis has aspirations of playing running back in college, but he also admits he wouldn’t mind playing linebacker like his friend and mentor.
“I feel like that’s the (other) position where I can play,” Tullis says. “I know what’s coming and most likely what I can do.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].