To say that Phillips has bulked up is an understatement. The towering lineman has changed his physique. Not only has he bulked up, but he has shed a lot of body fat. Phillips is clearly a player who worked hard during the off season.
"The weight program has been a great part," Phillips said. "I can really tell a difference in strength out here. Of course putting on weight helps. I've put on 20-25 pounds since last season, but I can still move with it. It just makes a big difference. (Weight training) Coach Brad Arnett really knows what he is doing. I think he's a real important part of how this team came into camp this year."
The road Phillips has taken since John Mackovic was hired has been a wild one. He started as a 270-pound defensive end, but was quickly moved to offensive line during spring practice. By the start of the season he was in the rotation at tackle and had bulked up to about the 290 range. Now as camp starts the 6-8 Phillips is over 320 pounds.
Phillips hasn't just rested on his weight room laurels, he is getting it done on the field. As camp begins he is on the first team offense working at right tackle. Despite a strong showing so far, Phillips is being pushed to keep his job. A job he will fight to keep.
"I'm pushing myself," said Phillips. "The coaches are pushing me. Everyone is pushing me to continually get better. Most of it has got to come from within. It has got to be in your heart. You have got to want it. You have got to work for it. Nothing is guaranteed."
Phillips has offered a lot of advice to the group of freshman linemen who are going through their first camp with the Wildcats. The freshmen are a few of the only players on the team who can rival the Chandler native in terms of size. Phillips has been very impressed with the freshman group.
"We got some real big young guys," Phillips said. "At first you might think that, ‘we got some big guys, but they must be lacking speed or something,' but these guys can really move. A lot of these guys are more than just big guys. They are athletic and show some quickness. Arizona can really look forward to having a good line the next four or five years."
Despite the fact that any one of the new players would love to take his job, Phillips has given his fair share of advice to his young teammates.
"The biggest difference is confidence. It is like I told these young guys, ‘get in your book, learn your plays and once you get some games under your belt you are able to take the next step.' It's not really even a step it's like a leap. That confidence is such a big thing. You take a bunch of little steps to get where you are at. As soon as you are really confident in what you are doing then you can take your game to a whole new level."
Talk about this story on the FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD
Or discuss the real inside story on the PREMIUM MESSAGE BOARD
E-mail Brad at Heymtymte@cs.com