In the next chapter of our countdown we’ll look at a productive Cowboy defender who’s taken an unorthodox career path at OSU.
How he got to OSU
Phillips was a typical Mike Gundy recruit. A three-star Texas kid who held offers from Baylor, Colorado and Boise State but committed early to OSU and bloomed late in recruiting circles. After a senior season in which he racked up 86 total tackles (61 solo), two interceptions and two recovered fumbles, Phillips was named the Houston Chronicle defensive player of the year.
What he’s done in Stillwater
Phillips played in the first five games as a true freshman in 2014, mostly on special teams. Injury kept him off the field for the next five but he would return against Baylor and Glenn Spencer threw him into the rotation at star linebacker for Bedlam. He turned his increased production into a 10-tackle performance and a big stake in the comeback win.
His strong finish led to excitement for a sophomore season that would have to wait. Due to a deep linebacker rotation, coaches and Phillips ultimately decided he should redshirt in 2015. He spent that time working on his body and bulked up 20 pounds to 235 and came back at the will linebacker spot in 2016. His reps and production grew hand-in-hand and he earned starts against Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
Role in 2017
Phillips should start at will linebacker for the Pokes in 2017. His hard-hitting style and run support make him an effective and versatile cog in Glenn Spencer’s machine. He figures to be another solid playmaker in a deep, talented and somewhat underestimated linebacker corps for OSU.
Noteworthy stats and highlights
Phillips made the first start of his career against Texas Tech in 2016. And he turned it into a career game with 14 total tackles (nine solo) and two huge momentum-shifting plays in the fourth quarter.
The first was early in the fourth, after Tech had kicked a field goal to pull within seven — then perfectly execute an on-side kick. The Red Raiders had the ball back in Oklahoma State territory but the momentum on their side of the field. But on the very next play, this happened.
Then later in the fourth, Phillips made a bee line for Patrick Mahomes and grabbed the athletic QB as well as the second sack of his career.