21 year-old Lorenzo Phillips has plenty on his plate, but he’s much more suited to deal with it than the 18 year-old four-star linebacker out of Patterson (La.) in the class of 2012. Back then, he made multiple commitments before ending up at LSU, where he then redshirted and played the following fall before transferring to East Mississippi Community College last spring.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defender is not only dealing with several big-time programs courting him yet again, but he’s up against the clock in trying to wrap-up his academic responsibilities at EMCC by the time winter graduation commences on December 12.
“I’m focused on doing what I have to do here, school-wise,” he said. “I’m trying to graduate in December, so a lot of people are waiting to see what I do. They want me there sooner, but if anything happens I’ll have to graduate in May. I feel like I’m going to graduate on time.
“It’s my core (classes), having to come here to help me bring my GPA up and everything to get eligible to play.”
Most of the schools on his list at this point, which includes several in the SEC, haven’t communicated their plans for him should he have to wait until the spring of 2015 to graduate from EMCC, but all of the coaching staffs have expressed the desire to get him on campus and in pads in January if he can make it in.
“Ever since I got here, I’ve had schools come through like Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida State, a lot of SEC schools, like Alabama, Texas A&M. A lot have offered me,” Phillips said. “They want me to graduate in December to be out there by January to start spring ball.
“Things have slowed up, but the ones I’m talking to the most -- UAB, Alabama, Georgia -- are waiting to see what I do. I know those guys really want me.”
Admittedly more mature and focused on the true priorities in his search for a final football program, where he’ll have two years to play two, Phillips has taken his game to the next level in the meantime. Not only does he lead the defending national champion Lions in sacks with 12, but the mark is good for third nationally among junior college athletes.
But Phillips has adapted to becoming an all-around linebacker as well, something that makes him more valuable at the next level, no matter the program he selects.
“Coach Leslie over here, my linebackers coach, helps me with a better understanding with back sets, the keys, reading the triangle and everything that comes with playing linebacker and defensive end – technique,” he said. “That way, when you reach the next level you have a clear view of things. I feel like I’m a hybrid. In a 4-3 defense, I can play in the box or in the middle, I’m physical enough. I can play outside backer, cover and drop into the flats and I’m a guy that loves to blitz. I can come in A-gap, B-gap, or you could walk me down on the edge.
“With these spread teams, people need a linebacker who could drop back in coverage if needed, and I feel like I can be an asset to any team that wants me there.”
The Alabama Crimson Tide had staff at a recent game of his and multiple coaches have been in contact with him this fall, and a return trip to Tuscaloosa could be in the works.
“I’ve been to an Alabama game, and I’m supposed to be going to the Alabama-LSU game this weekend,” Philips said. “I want to visit a couple more, but time is getting short. I went to UAB, too. I went to ‘Bama when they played Florida, nothing changed from before, I know what the game speed was going to be like. I told the coaches I appreciated them having me, and they’re trying to get me on an official out there.
“I’m not sure if I will, it will be nice, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time. I have to make sure I can get out of here, first.”
Georgia is another school heavy on the Louisianan’s tail.
“Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt from Georgia, he is in on me pretty hard and wants me,” he said. “I like what they have going on and everything, there’s a possibility they’re going to be able to come back and watch me play during these last few games.
“But I’m not ready to let everyone know at the moment, where I might be going.”
The calculated Phillips, whose play-making ability has helped EMCC to a 10-0 record with a shot at the state championship on Saturday against Copiah-Lincoln, has clear factors in mind when it comes to selecting a school.
“A lot of them don’t mention family,” he said. “Not saying that (I’m) going in there and making friends with coaches, but it’s a business and I’m on the market. I guess you could say family, coming in and them looking for me to start, though a lot of them don’t mention that. Those things get my attention.”
A decision from the former Scout300 talent isn’t expected until after the season.
Highlights of Phillips in High School