After a solid season at Grenada High School for Coach Ashley Kuhn, Phillips went to work at East Mississippi in hopes of making the strides necessary to become a major college football prospect. Lining up across from players who were much bigger and stronger than he saw in his one prep season at GHS forced Phillips to dig deep.
"The speed of the game is the main thing you have to get used to," Phillips. "It's not like high school at all. You have to do everything wide open every single play. You can't take plays off. We also have a real fast paced offense, so you have to keep up.
"It takes some getting used to, but I have it all down now. You have to be in shape to play here and you have to go hard all of the time."
Philips hoped he had done enough as a freshman in Scooba to catch the attention of some four year college football programs. Earlier this year, Phillips picked up an offer from Mississippi State. The chance to play for the Bulldogs was an option Phillips was hoping for.
"From the first time I went to a game there, I was sort of hooked," Phillips said. "I have been down there for a couple of camps and I enjoyed myself. It's a good atmosphere and it's not too far from home. I really like Coach (John) Hevesy. He tells you exactly how he wants something done and then he shows you how to do it. I like him as a coach and I like the way he does things."
Mississippi State will host their annual Big Dawg camp this Friday. Phillips plans to be on hand, but he will be more on the sidelines during drills rather than taking part in the action at Davis Wade Stadium. Despite his decision to observe rather than work out, Phillips still plans to make headlines.
"I am probably going to do down there and commit," Phillips said. "I am not going to work out or anything. I am getting ready for the season, but I am going to Big Dawg camp and spend some time with the coaches and players. I am excited about it."
While not "officially" a Bulldog, Phillips is already beginning to do some recruiting to aid in the Mississippi State efforts. A pair of friends and former teammates at Grenada High School are in regular contact with Phillips about their collective college futures.
"I am trying to get C.J. Avery to commit too," Phillips said. "He is listening, but he's sort of keeping everything to himself. He's visiting Florida State right now. He said once he takes all of these visits that he is going to decide. This trip to Florida State is supposed to be the last one, so he should be committing sometime soon. I hope he comes to Mississippi State.
"J.J. Russell is a great player and I am glad that he got offered. I think he has the chance to do some big things. We're all three real close and I think it would be great if we could all play together again."
Phillips is one of several junior college targets on the Mississippi State radar. With three senior offensive lineman expected to start this fall, Coach Dan Mullen and his staff are looking for some experienced big men to step in next year and contribute. It appears that quest will be one step closer to the finish line this Friday once Phillips gets to Starkville.