Calling All Guards

It's no secret the Irish will be looking for offensive linemen in this recruiting class. Andrew Phillips of Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda (Md.) attended the U.S. Army All-Star junior combine and is one of the nations best guard prospects. As one would expect, Notre Dame is just one school of many from around the nation that are recruiting Phillips. What connection does he have to Notre Dame? Does the hiring of coach Latina as the offensive line coach help the Irish?

Have you taken a look at Notre Dame's depth chart? If you have you've noticed a big hole emerging at both guard positions on the offensive line. All the guards on the 2005 roster will have one year of eligibility remaining. That means the guard prospects Notre Dame signs in the 2006 class better be top-flight prospects because they will need to play as true sophomores in 2007.

Could Andrew Phillips fill a need? As a junior he was a consensus Maryland all-state football selection. He's being named as a top 2006 prospect on a number of national recruiting lists, and he's also receiving piles of letters that would indicate it isn't a secret that he has loads of talent.

"I'm getting mail from all over," said Phillips. "Notre Dame, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Penn State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse --let's see."

I figured he could have continued for quite some time, so I stopped him at that point and inquired about his offers and what position college coaches were projecting him to play.

"Right now Maryland, Syracuse and Louisville have offered." Phillips said.

"I'm playing tackle now, but I've played every position on the line; center, guard and tackle. I spoke with Coach Friedgen at Maryland, he said I could play either center or guard, but most schools are talking guard. I'm fine with either position."

So far Phillips sounded like a player Notre Dame needs. He attends a school known for its academics, he's being recruited by most of the top programs from around the country, and he has some solid early offers and he plays guard – check, check, check.

How about camps?

"I went to Notre Dame's camp a couple years ago. Last year I went to the Maryland camp. I wanted to go to more camps but I couldn't fit it in my schedule," Phillips explained. "I spent a month up in Portland, Maine on a fishing boat. It was pretty rough work; there were days we'd start working at 4:00 A.M. and wouldn't get done until midnight the following day."

For those calculating that's a forty-four hour workday.

"It was brutal at times -- the money was good but the days were long." Phillips said. "I was up there with a couple buddies which was great, and Portland was a pretty cool town. It was rough work, but it was a great experience.

"I'd like to do it again this summer, so I'm not sure which camps I'll attend – probably Maryland though."

The guy doesn't mind getting dirty and certainly doesn't mind hard work – check. Is he interested in the Irish?

"I'm definitely interested in Notre Dame. I actually just mailed my R.S.V.P for the junior day on February 27th." Phillips said. "I've also been to Notre Dame a couple times. I went to the Rutgers game a couple years ago, and last year I went to the Stanford game. I love the campus, the academics are there, and Georgetown Prep sends a lot of students to Notre Dame.

"My uncle, Tom Gullickson, played for Dan Devine in the 70's. My cousin, Cassie Gullickson, currently attends Notre Dame and is on the women's track and field team. A buddy of mine, Joey Kemp, is a goalie for the lacrosse team at Notre Dame. So I do have a number of connections to Notre Dame."

Is there interest in Notre Dame – check. Has he visited Notre Dame-– check. Is there a family connection to Notre Dame-–check.

Being from the east coast, I assumed he was familiar with Notre Dame's new head coach, so I asked Phillips what he thought about Charlie Weis.

"I'm confident that Coach Weis will bring Notre Dame back. He'll bring the passion; He's intelligent and he has a great offensive mind. He's won three of the last four Super Bowls, what more can you ask for?" Phillips said.

"It's kind of interesting. Two of my high school coaches went to Virginia Tech, and they know coach Latina. One of them, Stuart Plank was a freshman when coach Latina was a graduate assistant."

We asked Phillips what he liked about his top five schools.

Virginia—"I just attended their junior day. It was a meet and greet session. I met Coach Groh and some of his staff."

Maryland—"They have been recruiting me from the beginning."

Syracuse—"Rice Moss is a friend that plays for them now."

Louisville—"I just like what coach Petrino has going on there. I'm intrigued."

Notre Dame—"I have noticed that Notre Dame has only signed a couple offensive linemen, so that's attractive. Other teams have signed five linemen a year."

"I'm going to look around though. I'm going to use football to get an education," Phillips continued. "I'm going to find the situation that's best for me. An important factor will be how I fit outside of football. Distance isn't a problem because there are benefits in playing close to home, and there are benefits to going to a new area and different environment."

Comments: I doubt anyone would be surprised if I said that Phillips is a Note Dame kid. He is the type of guy that is impossible not to like. He's well spoken; he's gregarious and has a good sense of humor. I doubt it would be a stretch to call Notre Dame the early favorite. But, Phillips is a going to do his due diligence. He had a lot of nice things to say about Notre Dame, but I think that's his nature. He has a positive outlook on things. He certainly seemed sincere in his interest in the Irish.


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