"It was the hardest decision that I've had to make," Rashad Phillips told Pack Pride. "I told the coaches on Friday that I was going to choose on Sunday. I had a feeling that I wanted to go to NC State, but I wanted to make sure.
"I was dodging phone calls all day, and I finally decided. I called Syracuse first and told them. It was hard telling coach White because we became real close. They said the scholarship is still there if I changed my mind, but I'm solid with my decision."
After notifying the coaches at Syracuse of his decision, Phillips next informed NC State defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap.
"I committed to [NC State defensive coordinator] Dunlap," he said. "He was excited. He said he's looking forward to me coming down to their spring game, and I can't wait."
NC State nearly lost Phillips in early January. Former Wolfpack safeties coach Manny Diaz had been recruiting him, but Diaz was named the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State, leaving Phillips without an NC State recruiting coach. However, Dunlap quickly took over his recruitment and made him feel comfortable.
"At first I didn't like that coach Diaz had left," said Phillips. "I almost canceled my official visit to State, but I thought about it and talked with coach Dunlap. I liked him, and he's a cool guy. It all worked out."
What was the deciding factor for Phillips?
"I just didn't want to go somewhere far away," he said. "I want to go somewhere that's already winning, and I'll have a chance to win a conference title.
"NC State was in the ACC, and that's a better conference. I think it is a better situation for me to get noticed, and they have the best athletes in that league.
"If State didn't offer me I was going to Syracuse or Virginia. The opportunity to stay close to home and play for a school that I've followed is a great opportunity for me."
Phillips had been leaning to Syracuse and Maryland prior to his NC State official visit, but it was that trip which really made the Wolfpack a factor in his recruitment.
"It is a great place," he said. "The people were real cool, and it seemed like a great place to be."
Starting at tight end and defensive end for Landstown, Phillips finished the year with 23 sacks, 33 catches and six touchdowns. He also blocked five punts and returned two of them for scores.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect had received scholarship offers from Kent State, Cincinnati, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Maryland, and NC State prior to announcing his decision. He earned all-state and all-conference honors as a senior after not playing football during his junior year, instead choosing to focus on basketball.
Despite his gaudy stats at defensive end and outside linebacker, Phillips wants to play tight end on the next level, and that was also a reason NC State and Syracuse emerged from the mix.
"That was real important to me," Phillips said of playing tight end. "That's why I told Tech, UVA, and Maryland that I wasn't going there. I like defense, but I prefer to play tight end.
"Syracuse was the first to offer me at tight end, but they have four tight ends coming back. NC State has only two so I think I can play earlier there.
"I know I need to pack on some pounds to play next year, but I'm up for it. I'm just glad the decision is behind me, and I know where I'm going."
#8 Rashad Phillips Video 1 -- Defensive End
#8 Rashad Phillips Video 2 -- Tight End
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