Justin Phillips: His Coach's Take

Justin Phillips is following in the footsteps of several Houston area players who were named the Houston Chronicle's Defensive Player of the Year before having standout college careers at Oklahoma State. With National Signing Day set for Wednesday, we visited with Pearland High School head coach Tony Heath about Phillips and his future with the Cowboys.

What are Justin's strengths as a football player?
Heath: I think his speed at his position. I think his quickness. I think his aggressiveness. He's a kid that as a linebacker is very well equipped to play in the Big 12, (against) the type of offenses they play in that league, the spread teams. He's a kid that can match up with backs, receivers, tight ends (in) man-to-man (coverage). He has a knack for getting to the football very quick.

What do you think will be the biggest transition for him moving from the high school game to the Big 12 Conference?
Heath: As any level that you switch to the transition they go through, there's more athleticism, there's more speed. There's always that transition whether you're transitioning from little league to junior high, junior high to high school, high school to college, college to pros. I think that transition is the same on any level, the game speed, the size (of the players) and the better athletes that you play against day in and day out.

Do you think he has a chance to make an instant impact or will there be an adjustment period for him?
Heath: He's pretty mature for his age. I think there's a possibility he can come in and play a little bit. I don't know what their strengths are, (and) I don't know what they have waiting in front of him. I don't know what their makeup is at that position, but I do think he can definitely be somebody that can come in and help some with special teams, if not the (linebacker) position.

What do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Heath: I think he liked the approach that was brought to him. I think the coaches did a very good job of recruiting him and being honest with him, telling him the situation they're at and where they see him. Once he made the visit there, obviously him and his parents like what Oklahoma State had to offer academically as well as their well-rounded program to help mature and grow these kids, and the commitment to getting these kids an education. Then also what they have as far as a football program.

What do you think he is capable of accomplishing over the course of his college career at OSU?
Heath: Oh gosh, hopefully number one will be getting a college education. Hopefully, he'll also be a contributor to the Oklahoma State football team, contributing the right way with class and character. At the end of the day, somebody that Oklahoma State will be proud to say they had as an Oklahoma State Cowboy.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Heath: I think his smile. He plays mad on the football field but when he comes off he always had this little smile on his face. You could tell he had a satisfaction with playing the game, the appreciation he has for the game and the love he has for the game.


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