Phillips a believer in Vols' direction

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With many of the country's top recruits in town this past weekend for Tennessee's first home SEC game, it's safe to say the majority left impressed with the fan support and where the program is heading.

  Kyle Phillips was one of those prospects that exited with a strong impression of the Volunteers program in his first-ever trip to Neyland Stadium.

  The FOX Sports and Scout four-star defensive end was thrilled by the sold out crowd packed into the historic stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River.

  "I enjoyed my trip a lot," Phillips told InsideTennessee. "It was a great sight to see, especially for it being my first-ever UT game. The fan base was really behind the team and one of the loudest crowds I've heard. The team really fought hard and never gave up."

  Despite the Vols' fourth straight loss to Georgia, the Hillsboro (Tenn.) High School standout believes the game signifies that the program is back on track.

  "They are definitely moving in the right direction," he said. "I can see a big improvement between last year and the year before and now. The energy of the crowd and the players is so much different. They were excited about playing and they deserved to come away with a win, but they will start to fall if they keep it up."

  While the trip impressed the Volunteer State's top-ranked junior in many ways, he still doesn't have a set list of schools that he is most interested in.

  "Right now I'm just going with the flow and looking at different schools," he said. "After this season I think Tennessee may be in my top five."

  So far the 6-foot-4, 250-pound end has received around a dozen offers to Division-I schools. Others to note include Auburn, Clemson, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

  Tennessee is showing heavy interest in Phillips, who ranks No. 50 in the Scout 300 for the Class of 2015.

"I've talked to (Tennessee linebackers) coach (Tommy) Thigpen, (defensive line) coach (Steve) Stripling and Butch (Jones) a lot," he said. "They do a good job staying in touch with me."

  With his junior season over halfway finished he wants to continue to push himself on the field and in the weight room.

  "It's really important I keep putting in hard work in the weight room," he said. "My technique is something I'm focusing on too so I can be a dominant pass rusher and stop the run."

  With the individual investment in his game and his upside he believes Tennessee will remain as one of his top interested schools.

  "I expect the interest to keep rising and I may take another trip here this year. It just depends on how it all plays out."

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