A Level Approach For Top MD Lineman

By now it's clear that another name for the class of 2005 recruiting strategy could be "lineman watch ‘05", or something similar. The fact is that Duke needs talented offensive linemen in the worst way, and on that note the Blue Devils have continued to work hard to gain the attention of several highly rated prospects. One of those hails from Maryland, and Georgetown Prep.

"Right now I'd say the schools I'm considering are Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, Stanford, Northwestern, Syracuse, and Notre Dame," said 6-foot-3, 290lbs Maryland lineman Andrew Phillips. "Off that list I've got offers from Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Notre Dame."

Phillips, who is rated as a three star offensive lineman, and the No. 16 overall prospect in the Maryland/DC area according to Scout.com, was one of the first targets identified on the Blue Devils' recruiting board. That early identification allowed Duke's coaching staff to get in early and develop a relationship that could pay off in the end.

"I'm very impressed with Coach Roof and I really like him a lot," said Phillips. "He's a terrific guy and a real player's coach. I hate to see them struggling this year, but I have faith that he's got things going in the right direction. They are realistic and know it's going to take time and they know that I understand that as well. He's going to keep plugging away then it'll just click. They know what they are doing."

As with many of the higher rated prospects in the country, Duke can offer Phillips the chance to come in and make a name for himself early by competing for playing time as a red-shirt freshman. However, that's not the main focus for Andrew.

"Wherever I end up going, I want to just help the team out. If that means getting on the field after a year of the weight room, or it means waiting until I'm a junior it doesn't matter. I want to help the program in any way I can. On the other hand, it's certainly appealing if I can come in and have a chance to get on the field early, but that's not something I'm banking on. I've visited places and seen some strength numbers and know that I need a year to get to that level. I mean some of the guys who have been in college a few years are just unreal."

While the Blue Devils are certainly putting in the time with Phillips, they aren't the only ones who have made a big impression with him, as some of their ACC brethren have also come calling.

"Coach Friedgen and Coach Bunting have both done some nice things with me. I think Maryland could be a force in a few years, and North Carolina has a great college town atmosphere. Chapel Hill is a great city. The ACC is just such a great league and every school is getting better and better from top to bottom. It really is turning into the premiere league in the country."

However, don't count out the other schools that are on the outside looking in at the ACC.

"With Notre Dame it starts with tradition and I think Coach Weiss' accomplishments this year are the tip of the ice berg. Soon they're probably going to be back in the hunt for a national title. With Northwestern and Stanford it's about academics. With those two schools and Duke, we're talking about three of the best schools in the country, if not the world. You can't beat that."

With eyes on reaching a decision in the coming months, Phillips says he has a rough criteria for selecting a school at this point.

"First of all I'm using football as a way to get the best education possible. I'd love to play in the NFL some day, but if that doesn't happen I want a degree that will actually mean something in the real world. I want to learn about the support staff and academic help staff they football team has, and how they'll help me earn a real degree. I'm thinking of majoring in either business or maybe something in psychology. I met a gentleman this summer who works as a sports psychologist with some big time athletes like Venus Williams, Danica Patrick, and Fred Couples – helping them focus. That was really appealing to me."

"After academics I think the next thing I'll be looking for is the backing the football program has from the administration and on campus. That's important. When you're on the field, you want to know you've got that support staff."

"I guess the last thing would be the kind of coaching staff they have in place. I want to go somewhere that the coaches will push me mentally and physically on the field, but will also help me become the best man, husband, and father I can be."

As far as worrying about going away for school, Phillips says location isn't a big concern for him.

"I'm going to check out a few different places and see the lay of the land. I don't want to go somewhere because it's close to home just because it's close. It's a big commitment. I'm going to be there for five years of my life, so I need to pick a place for the right reasons, and somewhere I'm comfortable."

Phillips reports a bench press max of 330lbs and a squat max of 460lbs.

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