The 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl was a huge opportunity for Nashville (Tenn.) East Literature Magnet linebacker Jacob Phillips to showcase the continued improvement in his game. The four-star linebacker did exactly that with an impressive week of practice and a solid game performance.
Phillips has enjoyed learning a new defense, coverages and alignments while tying for first on his team in tackles and a notched a tackle for loss on Scout's No. 1 overall prospect Najee Harris.
"It's great. It's crazy you know, I'm having a really good time," the 6-3, 225-pound linebacker said. "Practice had been good. It's nice checking your phone and seeing you're a top performer and stuff like that."
While there weren't any LSU commits in the Army Bowl, Phillips talked to four-star linebacker Willie Gay briefly about playing together, but for the most part, the No. 182 overall player in 2017 said he's been hanging with other Sooner commits.
"I don't think there's any LSU commits out there. Willie has talked to me, but other than that, it's my Oklahoma commits," Phillips said. "It's been great. Since they're from the same area and stuff, it's been great to bond with them and be comfortable around the people I'm with."
The No. 1 linebacker in Tennessee said that part of his reasoning for committing to Oklahoma in October was his relationship with the coaches and the consistency with which they've recruited him to Norman.
"I have a great relationship with my position coach and head coach. They've been recruiting me from the bottom through the rise," Phillips said. "It means a lot that they were all there for that."
LSU commit and fellow Tennessean Jacoby Stevens has been recruiting Phillips to join him in Baton Rouge. The pair train together in Nashville.
"Jacoby has been hitting me up a lot with the LSU coaches every day. Me and him (Jacoby) are real tight. That's my boy. He wants me to come down and he thinks we can start our freshman year as two dudes from Nashville," Phillips said. "I'm getting a lot of love from them." http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1743919-army-bowl...
The LSU coaching staff continues to push the No. 7 overall linebacker as well. Their pitch is simple.
"I'm committed to Oklahoma, but I still talk to LSU. They tell me I'm their No. 1 prospect. They want me, they need me and they're coming to get me," Phillips said. "Their main thing is opportunity since they'll only have a few linebackers on there so there's a chance to start right away."
The Oklahoma staff stresses the same thing to Phillips.
"Oklahoma is the same thing. They're pushing a good chance to start right away because the junior there is graduating so that'll be up for grabs too," Phillips said.
Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron has already done an in-home with Phillips, but director of player personnel Austin Thomas and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda are set to visit with Phillips soon after the dead period ends.
With Phillips being out of official visits, he's still trying to decide whether he wants to take an official to Baton Rouge. Phillips visited LSU over the summer.
"I'm committed to Oklahoma so there's not a deciding factor here. I know God has a plan for me and whatever takes place, takes place," Phillips said. "I don't know if I'm going to visit or want to visit or not. I've taken a visit before so it's just about the relationship with the coaches. I haven't thought about it too much with the game."
There's no timetable on Phillips making a decision one way or another, he told Tiger Blitz.
SCOUT'S EVALUATION OF PHILLIPS:
"Phillips is a linebacker who leads. He plays with effort, with energy, with passion and he makes others around him better. His size stands out immediately because he will enter college looking like a college linebacker. He has a great frame with good length and he uses that size to make plays. He is very strong against the run. When going north-south, that is when Phillips is at his best. He reads his keys, identifies the ball and goes to get it. He has a nice initial burst towards the football. When he gets there, he is a strong tackler. Typically, Phillips will tackle low, lead with his shoulder and wrap up. He does not miss too many tackles. He has improved his angles to the ball too. When playing inside the box, he looks and plays comfortable. His pass coverage has improved, but that is still an area he can get better in. He needs to improve his flexibility and agility to play better in space and when he drops into coverage. With his size, he has the ability to be used on the blitz and moved around. Some schools liked him on the inside, others liked him outside as a stand up linebacker to rush the quarterback, so he has some versatility. Phillips is going to give his all each play. He takes coaching well. He competes and he has really improved the last two years. His game is only going to get better."