Micheal Barrow knows more than a little bit about starring at the University of Miami and then playing at the highest of levels for the Giants. That's why TGI sought out old friend Barrow to share his thoughts on Big Blue's first-round pick Kenny Phillips. Barrow, who excelled at inside linebacker in New York from 2000-2003, is currently the Hurricanes LBs coach and he's seen Phillips develop every step of the way the last three years.
Q: What kind of guy and player are the Giants getting?
A: He's a guy that absolutely loves football. He's a good character kid. As a freshman, he came in and started as a true freshman. I think the kid is definitely a hard worker, athletic, and he has a passion for the game. He's very quiet though. He's not outspoken. He's just a real awesome player. I think he has the ability to cover as well. He can play corner or safety. He has tremendous feet and footwork. He has a lot of potential; he still has a lot of room to grow, as far as learning the game. He's willing to pay the price. The sky's the limit for that kid.
Q: But can he also handle the run like a linebacker?
A: He's definitely a guy that's willing to put his nose in there. He'll go in there and give all he's got. He made a whole bunch of tackles for us. He just has a good feel for it. He's not scared of contact; he'll go right in there and deliver a hit on you and make some plays happen in the run game. To me he's a complete safety. The kid can cover; he has cover skills like a corner. But then he also can be in that box; he can play either strong or free for you. I just think over the years he's going to get better and better as he continues to learn the game. You're going to see him make more and more plays on the ball and get more interceptions and stuff like that.
Q: How much do you think his time spent at UM will help him deal with everything in New York?
A: For a kid like him, who started as a true freshman, you really can't get any bigger than that on a collegiate level. Starting for University of Miami as a true freshman, that's a lot of pressure. Coming into Miami he was Gatorade Player of the Year. He's used to the attention and he's the type of kid because of his personality that will be able to handle anything you throw his way. If they write something negative about him, he's not going to get caught up in it. He's very competitive; he just loves to compete. If somebody were to write something negative, it will just motivate him to be the very best to prove that wrong. That's the type of kid he is. He's not going to say anything but deep down inside he's going to be thinking ‘I'm going to show them.' He's a great kid to have. You don't have to worry about a thing about him off the field. He handles himself on and off the field very well. The kid is just smart and makes good decisions.
Q: Were you guys worried about your streak of having a Miami guy go in the first round the last now 14 years?
A: We weren't sweating it. I was thankful the Giants did take him, which obviously kept the streak alive. We consistently thought he was the number-one safety on the board and felt like anybody that needed a safety would be getting a good safety that still had room to grow. Not just physically but mentally, the sky's the limit for him. They're getting a great player who's going to be even better as a professional. Now he can focus on football full-time, especially if someone can take him under their wing and teach him the ins and outs of the game. That's going to help him out so much.
Q: Does any memory particularly stand out to you about Kenny?
A: Just his footwork, man. Just watching him cover our receivers one-on-one, just his change of direction and all that. I've been watching him since he got here. I've been impressed with him from when he started as a freshman. In some schemes, he can definitely play corner in the NFL. I think that's what really separates him is his exceptional footwork.
Q: When we're catching up five years from now, what are we going to be saying about Kenny Phillips?
A: I think he can be one of the best. I think he can make a pretty good name for himself in the NFL. The key for him now to take his game to the next level is that someone needs to teach him even more of the game. He just needs to continue to become a student of the game and he's going to make a whole lot more plays on the ball. I think that's what separated him from the rest. People compare him to Ed Reed; he's not Ed Reed yet. They compare him to Sean Taylor, and he's not Sean Taylor. But I think he can become a combination of both as he continues to become a student of the game.
Q: Do you think he could have used an extra year in school or was he ready to go?
A: That's not my call. That's between him and his position coach. I don't have an opinion about that.
Q: Finally, I know Giants fans would love to hear about you and what you're up to these days.
A: Just coaching down here at the best university in America, in the world, actually. Just coaching linebackers and enjoying it. I enjoy the whole recruiting part of it. It's rare that you get an opportunity to come back to a place that you love and have a chance to make a positive impact on it. I'm just trying to be the best that I can be and help turn this program around and get it on the right track. That's my goal. I have a lot of people and players that have invested a lot of time here counting on me to help us turn this thing around.
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