Chargers Draft Interview: Shaun Phillips

Spidey senses are tingling. And not the ones that are destined to invade major league ballparks in June. It is the feeling a player has going into the NFL draft and Shaun Phillips Spidey sense was way off base. <br><br> "I didn't even really think I was on San Diego's radar," Phillips said.

That does not mean he wasn't excited. He may have been a tad bit mystified but a new chapter of his life is about to begin.

"I was real excited," Phillips said. "It was kind of mind boggling. To get the call, I saw the area code, 858, and I didn't even know where that was at.

"I answered the phone and heard it was the Chargers. I was real excited. After talking to Coach Schottenheimer I knew it was a good fit for me."

The Bolts selected Shaun Phillips with the second pick in the fourth round. Draftniks, even Mel Kiper, called it a steal in the fourth round.

Phillips, playing for the Purdue Boilermakers, broke the school record for sacks in a career with 33.5. The old record was held by Roosevelt Colvin who amassed 30.

Phillips also ranked third in school annals with 60.5 tackles for a loss, behind only Colvin (61) and Jeff Zgonina (72).

The defensive end is looking to follow in the footsteps of Colvin and Akin Ayodele, both former Boilermakers who made the transition from end to outside linebacker.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made taking an end and transforming them into a productive linebacker famous. The 3-4 has allowed them that opportunity. They have been able to take "tweeners" and put them in position to succeed. Most of those players have been picked after the third round.

It could have been a reason Phillips slipped. He is, however, confident in his ability.

"They just told me they are going to try me at the outside linebacker spot," Phillips said. Have me cover a little bit and let me go after the quarterback, what I know I can do best."

As for the transition, Phillips loves the challenge. He is an athlete first, having earned the distinction of the number one rated tight end in the state of New Jersey out of high school.

"I am looking forward to it," Phillips says with a grin. "It is going to be a little task. Any position is going to be a task at the next level. I confident in my coaches, making sure I am ready to go. As far as making the transition, I like to believe I am an athlete and athletes can adjust to anything."

And one benefit Phillips has is the friends he has made along the way.

Besides leaning on the veterans in camp, none of who have switched from end to linebacker, Phillips plans to tap his resources and work hard at his craft.

Former Boilermaker Ayodele is the first stop on his quest.

"Akin from the (Jacksonville) Jags is like my best friend," Phillips says, hinting he might be on to something. "I will definitely use him as a shoulder to lean on and to help me out a little bit."

The new scheme will call for Phillips to make an immediate impact on the field. As a sack specialist he figures to get playing time supporting another newcomer, albeit by different paths, Steve Foley.

Fourth rounders generally don't start, but Phillips does not have a fourth round mentality.

"I was disappointed," Phillips said of not being selected on the first day. "I wasn't furious because I knew I would get drafted. You are usually disappointed when you know you should get drafted and you don't. Or maybe if you are that number one pick and you don't go number one. So, I was ok because I was confident I would get drafted. But I would have liked to go on the first day. I was mad at first but then as I was thinking about it God must have had a better plan for me and that plan was to be down in San Diego."

The tingling Phillips is feeling now has nothing to do with Spider Man. He is a rookie in an NFL camp on his way to orientation.

The plan starts to take effect on Friday morning when he takes the practice field as a member of the Chargers. The tutorial may be just beginning, but Phillips is in an enviable position. His competition, Foley, was a sack specialist in college and a strong training camp could put Phillips in the driver's seat.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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