"When I was a junior we played him, but I kind of know him from earlier," said Phillips. "Him and my brother played basketball together. He actually spent a lot of time at my house over a summer. Him and my brother were good friends and then they had a falling out. It kind of made things a little more intense."
Back then Suggs was a linebacker and Phillips was a better defensive prospect. Things have changed for both players. Phillips has blossomed into a reliable blocker, while Suggs is the nation's best pass rusher.
" It was intense in high school when he played linebacker," Phillips said. "Now he's on the line and last year going up against him we hooked up quite a bit on a lot of the pass plays. I enjoy getting to play against him."
The personal relationship between the two only enhances the game for Phillips.
"He says some things to me and I say some things back to him. It makes the rivalry that more intense. We have some history before I was a Wildcat."
Phillips's choices of schools actually came down to Arizona and Arizona State, but he just felt a better fit in Tucson. He took visits to both schools, but just like what Arizona had to offer Phillips knows there is a lot of pressure on him and his linemates. Sacks have plagued the Wildcats and now they have to go up against the best. Although the task is huge, it is one that Phillips relishes.
"With Suggs being the sacks leader and us having a lot of our success through the air, there's that extra pressure," said Phillips. "I take a lot of it upon myself since I'm a tackle and I'll be in that match-up a lot. For me it makes the game even more of a big deal. I like that pressure. I like the pressure of being able to play a good defense and a good player."
While Phillips knows Suggs very well, he's hoping that at least one of his teammates doesn't get the honor. You can bet that Phillips will do his best to keep quarterback Jason Johnson from getting too acquainted with the Sun Devil sack master.