The strange part was that I fractured my hand in my 4th game of the season, but instead of sitting out I played through the injury, Phillips said. It was tough but in the end it was worth it because I had a lot of fun this year and I love playing the game.
Despite the minor setback, Donte felt good about his junior season.
I felt that I did great. We had one of the best defensive ends in the state and teams couldn't double-team both of us, Donte said. So if I was double-teamed, that left him wide open to make a play. I got doubled and occasionally tripled a lot so it opened up a lot of plays for our 'backers as well.
Donte feels that his versatility is one of his biggest weapons.
Before this year I played DE all my life but I switched inside this year. I'm really athletic for a defensive tackle so I use my quickness and moves I learned at end, Phillips said, but as a tackle, I have quick hands and I am strong which helps me to move people around in there. A lot of lineman are surprised when I play them because I'm big but I'm very light on my feet, which catches them off guard.
Colleges are looking at Phillips as a 3-technique or 5-technique tackle, which Phillips likes.
I'm consistently hearing from schools that 30 pounds can easily be put on me because of my wide frame, which makes for a solid tackle, Phillips said.
Donte knows his strengths, but he also knows there are areas he needs to work on.
I'm very athletic, I have a knack for finding the ball, and I have a high IQ for the game, Phillips said. A couple things I definitely need to work on are my explosion when I tackle and pad level. I notice when I watch myself that I play too high at times and if I can fix that I can be ten times more effective.
The list of schools Donte is considering is long, and he isn't ready to name any definitive favorite.
Some schools that have stuck out to me above the rest are Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, UCLA, and Western Michigan, Phillips said. Western Michigan might seem kind of strange among those schools, but I have a great relationship with Coach Moreland there and I like what they have going in Kalamazoo.
He has a reason for his choices. For Michigan, Western Michigan, and Wisconsin it is mostly the relationship with the coaches there. Minnesota is a team on the rise and their city is committed to them, which shows with their new facilities, Phillips said.
Maryland is also in the running for Phillips' letter of intent.
I think Maryland is a great university and seems to be a top one of the best teams in the ACC, Phillips said. I don't know what their facilities and university is like but that is something I would love to get out and check out.
The Terrapins' disappointing 2-10 campaign did little to hurt Phillips' opinion of Maryland.
I follow lots of sports and I realize teams struggle on occasion. The way I see it, as long as that team seems to be making moves to change their past then there's always a possibility for success in the future, Phillips said.
If signing day was tomorrow, Donte isn't sure where he would sign.
I'd probably have to pull a Seantrel Henderson because Im not sure where I would sign haha, Phillips said.
When reminded that Henderson had made a verbal commitment, Phillips revealed a possible favorite.
That's a tough one but I would have to say Wisconsin, because the coaches there are really committed to making UW a national program and are improving every year, Phillips said. By no means are they a favorite though.
Why the Badgers? I've known [offensive line] coach Bostad since my freshman year and we have a pretty nice relationship right now, Phillips said.
Having visited Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisville, and Western Michigan, Phillips has an idea of when he wants to commit. I would like to make a decision sometime before my senior season starts or mid-summer if able. I will only commit to a school once I am for sure about them though so that could change, Phillips said.
He wants to avoid being a Terrence Ross or Seantrel Henderson, though. I do not want to be a decommit and go back on my word.