Fresh off of winning his third consecutive state title, Bishop Gorman's (NV) Marc Philippi has become a hot commodity for high level Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) programs like Montana and Northern Arizona. But after reflecting on recent contact with Navy coaches and players, the defensive back might be inclined to take his game to the next level by attending the Naval Academy.
The 6-foot, 204-pound Philippi is the #131 rated safety prospect according to Scout.com, and currently holds scholarship offers from Montana, UNLV, Navy, and Northern Arizona. This past weekend he took an official visit to Montana, but coming on strong in the recruiting process as of late has been Navy. Among other aspects, Philippi enjoys the national exposure of the Navy program, and has been following the team all year.
"They have a national audience and all their games are on national TV, so that's really exciting," Philippi said.
Also in the mix is UNLV, where Philippi will take an official visit this weekend.
"They were actually my first offer, and I've always kept that in mind and had a special thing for them," he said of the Rebels.
If Navy holds an advantage in recruiting right now, it may be that Annapolis will be the last stop on Philippi's official visit tour. The hard-hitting safety will arrive on the Yard during the second week of January.
Also working in Navy's favor is the connection established between Bishop Gorman alumni and Navy football. A relatively recent phenomenon, it has come largely through the work of fourth-year Navy assistant Steve Johns. Before coming to Navy, Johns worked under current Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo at UNLV, serving as a recruiting coordinator for the Rebels from 1999-2004. Coincidentally, Marc's father served as a former UNLV strength coach while Johns was coaching in Las Vegas.
"I kind of knew him – or knew of him – so when he came up here to recruit me in the spring we kind of connected by that," said Philippi.
Philippi has played some fullback for Bishop Gorman in the past, but Johns is recruiting him as an outside linebacker.
"He told me they were looking for a rover/hybrid," said Philippi. "That's what I'm wanting to play in college."
Philippi was a First Team All-State selection as a junior, finishing the year with 96 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. That he has had success at the high school equivalent of the national stage (playing teams such as nationally-ranked De Le Salle CA and Hamilton AZ) has made college coaches look seriously at his ability. If he decides to attend Navy, he'll be following several recent Gorman players across the country, joining OT Sam Womack, DE Evan Pelelei, and CB Togasii Peko at the Academy.
During the recruiting process, Philippi has kept in contact with the former Gorman players, who've given him advice and counsel when it comes to possibly signing on to play for Niumatalolo's team.
"I've been calling them and seeing how they like it, (getting) the pros and cons of everything," Philippi said. "It's a great opportunity after you graduate, so I'm trying to keep all my options open, and make my decision after I visit Navy."
"They say that Gorman prepares you a lot for what you'll see at the Naval Academy," continued the senior. "It's not always easy, but when you think about all the benefits you're getting – the education, and the type of football you're playing – nothing can really match it."
It's still too early in the recruiting process to say definitively whether or not Philippi would be a direct entry recruit to Annapolis or if he'd have to spend a year at the prep school, but recent contact with the Navy coaches suggest the former would be the case should he commit.
One of the things that sets Navy apart from the other schools that are recruiting him is Navy's national exposure. While he enjoyed the atmosphere of Missoula and the tradition of Montana, Philippi knows Navy football competes against some of the best teams in the country. That the competition level might receive a boost in the coming years with a possible move by Navy to the Big East conference certainly doesn't dissuade Philippi and other recruits when weighing the pros and cons of committing.
"One of the coaches talked about how (Navy) might be going to the Big East," Philippi recounted. "Having offers from some of the smaller schools, that really is intriguing. Aside from getting an education paid for, you want to play big-time football when you have the opportunity. That makes it more intriguing, especially with the BCS bid."
The next few weeks are sure to keep Philippi busy, but don't expect a commitment quite yet. He wants to visit all the schools which have extended scholarship offers to him, and won't make a decision until after he visits the Academy. As for now, he's relishing another state title, and finding every reason to enjoy "the most wonderful time of the year."
"I'm just trying to enjoy the process," he said. "Not every high school football player in the country gets an opportunity to be recruited to a D-1 school. Any option I choose is going to be a good option, so I'm just going to try to enjoy the process right now and all the visits."
Hey Navy fans! It's recruiting season, and GoMids' Adam Nettina has you covered. Looking for exclusive news and interviews with Navy commitments? Want to know how future Midshipmen teams might look? Be sure to sign up for GoMids' premium subscription to get all the latest updates!
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