Phillips arrived on campus in June to begin summer classes. A new NCAA rule this year allows incoming freshmen to take two summer classes and allowing them to participate in the off-season workout plan.
"It has been a great help coming in early," Phillips said. "We have a chance to come in early and learn the system. The conditioning with Swasey helps us out a lot also. Just the whole experience is great."
Coming in early has its benefits for the freshmen before starting fall practice, which is set to begin Saturday.
"I actually do believe it is good for the freshmen," Phillips said. "Just by being around the other players and they have been telling me ways to make myself better. That is what I have been doing. I have been watching extra film and going over things."
One of his goals this season is to play and not redshirt. In fact he talks regularly with his roommate Randy Phillips (no relation although they tell people they are brothers) about how neither of them want to redshirt this year.
"We aren't trying to redshirt," Phillips said. "We don't own any 'red shirts' and we don't want to go near any 'red shirts'"
His goals do not stop there.
"I don't have to start right away," Phillips said. "But I do want to play and by the third game or so I want to be competing for a starting spot."
He even has a bigger goal.
"I joked around with Greg Threat and Brandon Meriweather the other day about how I was going to come off the bench and lead the team in interceptions this year," Phillips said.
"They laughed at me, but I was dead serious," Phillips said. "They told me, 'not this year, but it's all good.'"
Phillips went back and forth with his thoughts. At first he thought he would step right in, but then he admitted to not knowing what he was doing when he first arrived on campus. Now he has the attitude that he can compete with the caliber of players at Miami.
"At first I thought I was going to have to wait my turn, but talking to the coaches they are telling me that if I make plays, then I will play--and I believe that."
Phillips, who was named the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 84 tackles, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, four defensive touchdowns, and three punt returns for touchdowns as a senior.
"I know what I can do and what I am capable of," Phillips said. "I know it is a different level in college, but by seeing them and working out with them I am fitting right in. If they can do it, then I know I can do it."
For those who have not seen Phillips play, he discusses his style.
"I play very physical. I love contact. I am not the type of guy who will shy away from anyone. I just like to be around the ball and make big plays."
He considers himself a mix between Sean Taylor and Ed Reed. He compares to Taylor in his physical game and to Reed's knowledge.
He claims his ability to get on the field lies more on the mental development of his game as opposed to physically.
"You can't go full speed if you don't know where you are supposed to be," Phillips said. "You have got to know your stuff if you want to play."
Phillips assessed his mental development as of now.
"I am almost there," Phillips said. "I spend a lot of time with the coaches learning the plays and talking to the upperclassmen--they help me out a lot. I think I am pretty close."
Phillips is one of five Hurricanes who played under legendary coach Walt Frazier at Carol City.
"Playing for coach Frazier was a great experience," Phillips said. "He enforced discipline on us. He wasn't going to let you do whatever you wanted to because you had a big name. He treated everyone equally and I appreciate that. He kept me with a level-head with everything. It was a great experience."
Hurricanes From Carol City
Pos Player Year Graduated WR Sinorice Moss SR 2002 CB Glenn Sharpe JR 2002 DE Eric Moncur FR 2003 LB Willie Williams FR 2004 S Kenny Phillips FR 2005 Note: Carol City has the most former players on the rosterThis summer the upperclassmen, which features 16 seniors, showed good leadership in instructing the younger plays with how things are.
"They are demanding," Phillips said. "It doesn't matter that you are just a freshman. They want you to go full speed or slack off. They push us just like they push everyone else. They are just like our big brothers."
During 7-on-7's Phillips tested his ability against former Hurricane and current Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.
"It was amazing," Phillips said. "During 7-on-7's I am getting a chance to go up against big Andre Johnson. It is great feeling because it can't do anything, but make me better."
When asked how he fared against Johnson, Phillips just shook his head and smiled from ear to ear.
"Andre Johnson vs. Kenny Phillips?," Phillips said with a large grin. "I don't know. I'll just be quiet on that one."
The 17 true freshmen in the 2005 signing class have been getting along very well this summer.
"We are getting along real well," Phillips said. "We all hang out together in each other's rooms and talk, play video games. We came together real fast. We push each other a lot and will criticize each other just to make each other better. We are all like brothers."
Fall practice begins Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Phillips will officially begin his college career. To say he is excited is an understatement.
"I want to hit somebody," Phillips said. "I just want to see what it feels like to hit somebody on the college level. I am going to knock someone out--I don't care who it is. I am going to try."
He possesses a combination of confidence and youthful optimisim, but it was good to hear his goals for the future of the Hurricanes.
While addressing the media he was wearing his 2003 Florida State 6A Championship ring. When asked if he planned on adding to his collection he responded, "got to".
"I plan on getting at least two or three more of these rings before I leave here," Phillips said. "I think we can do it this year."
Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org