Can Vols Complete Miami Connection?

Back in the days when outlaws were in vogue and tales of their daring deeds in demand, Demetrice Morley and Kenneth Phillips would have been celebrated in the manner of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — master thieves who ride like the wind, fire from the hip and reverse the course of fortune in the wink of an eye.

A century removed from the last ride of Butch and Sundance, the potential pairing of Morley and Phillips evokes memories of that bygone era and tantalizes us with what could be. And what's more natural than teaming the nation's No. 1 safety and No. 1 cornerback in the same secondary for four years, especially when those prospects come from the same city?

Some might say having Morley and Phillips play for the University of Miami would be more natural since both players come from America's southern most metropolis. While admittedly such an arrangement would be sensible it would also be predictable. By contrast, putting the dynamic DB duo in same secondary at Tennessee would be pure poetry.

Besides, Morley is already on board for Tennessee which means the gridiron union of the best defensive backs in the Class of 2005 could only take place if Phillips decides to Volunteer. It will be on national signing day before we know if Phillips decides to follow Morley on the road less traveled, but for six days in San Antonio football scouts got a chance to see the two together and unleashed.

What scouts saw was more than prospects from the same hometown performing similar duties in the same secondary. They saw kindred spirits who bring their game rather than play someone else's. They glide through space with rare grace, close with abandon, hit with authority and generally make life miserable for both quarterbacks and receivers. The have larceny in their hearts and go after every pass like they are receivers rather than defenders. They play with unbridled passion even in practice and often accented big plays with battle cries of "305" — the area code for Miami.

"In today's practice the (East) secondary dominated the one-on-one drills with south Florida defensive backs Demetrice Morley and Kenny Phillips showing the way," wrote's Jamie Newberg reporting on a practice at San Antonio. "They both consistently manhandled the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage throughout the entire practice, rarely losing the one-on-one battle."

The Miami Connection play defense with an offensive mindset. They are both explosive return specialist and have proven they can excel on offense when used there. As a senior at Coral City High School, Phillips, who is known as "Boo Boo", recorded 84 tackles, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, scoring four defensive touchdowns and taking three punts the distance. He had 54 tackles and seven picks in his junior campaign.

"Kenneth Phillips is one of those young men who doesn't come along very often," said Carol City assistant coach and former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Fred Nixon. "He is a model student from his work in the classroom to the way he respects everyone around him."

Morley, who is known as "D-Mo", finished his final season at Killian High School with 56 tackles and nine interceptions. He returned three kicks for touchdowns and the playoffs he returned an INT 73 yards for a score. His numbers were more impressive as a junior when opponents were more willing to test him. Morley had 60 tackles, two sacks, 10 tackles for losses, nine picks, three caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also returned a punt for a touchdown in the Florida-California All-Star Game.

On their own either Morley or Phillips is gifted enough to transform a secondary. Together they could transform an entire team. In other words: this is one occasion when one plus one equals one instead of two.

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