Phillips Wants Success On And Off The Field

Justin Phillips has been a huge success in high school football. The linebacker at state finalist Pearland High School has reminded a number of observers in the Houston area of last season's Oklahoma State senior linebacker and four-year starter Shaun Lewis. It's a slight case of déjà vu, as Phillips, like Lewis back in 2009, won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the Houston area.

Phillips earned the award from the Houston Chronicle, while Lewis got the award from the Houston Touchdown Club. In his senior season, Lewis posted 94 tackles with 10 tackles for losses, while Phillips registered 86 tackles with 11 tackles for loss as a senior, as well as two sacks and two interceptions.

Like Lewis, Phillips is smallish for a linebacker, but that fits right in with the Cowboys need at the "star" linebacker position, a hybrid linebacker-safety spot on the defense. Both have really good speed. Phillips said he won't bother playing any sports in the spring, as he's going to get ready to come in and make an impression right away as a freshman.

"I want to be ready, so I'm going to do the workout they send us after signing day," Phillips said. "I want to be ready when I go up there in May."

That too would be similar to Lewis, who started the final six games of his freshman season and had 58 tackles. Lewis also picked off a pass late in the Texas A&M game to set up the winning field goal.

Phillips has that same knack for the big turnover and big play. In the Class 5A Division I state championship game against Allen, Phillips flat out took the ball away from Allen quarterback Kyler Murray as Murray was on his way to a touchdown. Instead, Phillips took it back 88 yards the other way.

"Thanks," Phillips said when complimented on the play. "It was something my team needed; I had to do something. That is what I want to do at Oklahoma State, is know when it's needed and make the big play on defense.

"I want to be successful outside of football," Phillips added when asked about what else is important to him. "I want to get that degree and be able to go get a good-paying job if I don't get to play football at the next level."

Phillips likes to relax and have fun, but his attitude of taking care of business before fun will serve him well at Oklahoma State.

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