After starting 11 games and accumulating 88 tackles (good for third on the team) as a true freshman at safety for UM in 2005, Kenny Phillips feels like with a year of experience, he can be even more productive in 2006.
"I feel like there is not any pressure on me to perform any more," Phillips said. "I am not a freshman. I can't make the same mistakes I made last year. I have to get into the film room and correct those mistakes.
"Playing as a freshman helped me out a lot. I was out there sometimes winging it, I didn't know what I was doing. Now, I am in the playbook, I am in the film room, and I know what is going on. I can cheat stuff a little bit and take chances, because I know where my teammates are going to be to back me up."
With the return of Anthony Reddick from an ACL injury he suffered last season and senior Brandon Merriweather, the safety position has three players that can all play the position well.
"Brandon is working a little bit at cornerback, but I think all of us are going to get a lot of playing time and we will still help each other out," Phillips said. "Whatever happens, happens. All of us can play at any time. If someone goes out, that person can lose their job."
UM's secondary, though young, has the talent to again be one of the best in the nation in 2006. So far, Phillips likes what he sees from the corner backs.
"They are starting to become lockdown corners," Phillips said. "Glenn and Randy are looking real good. Bruce is coming around and the freshmen are starting to look good. Glenn is a guy who has been here a while. He may not have been out here physically, but he has gotten a lot of mental repetitions. He is blessed with talent. He has quick feet and good hands."
Phillips has big goals for the 2006 season. Opponents better take notice.
"I want to stay in the playbook and work on my tackling. I really want to learn the playbook and learn what everybody is doing on the defense. I also want to be knockin people out. I know I can make tackles, but now I want them to feel it when I do."
David Lake can be reached at email@example.com
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