July 2, 2008

Rebels pull into lead for hometown standout

One might think Ole Miss would be at an advantage over arch-rival Mississippi State in a heated recruiting battle playing its way out in Oxford.

One would be wrong, apparently.

"Most of my friends that I talk to hate Ole Miss," Phillips said, laughing. "I don't know why."

Luckily for the Rebels, however, Phillips is planning on making his own decision. And right now, the talented, three-star athlete from Oxford (Lafayette County), Miss., is leaning toward staying in his hometown to play his college football.

"This is my decision, not theirs," Phillips said.

Phillips, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder ranked No. 12 on the RebelSports.net Mississippi Preseason Top 25, said Wednesday that Ole Miss leads Mississippi State "slightly," in large part because of the Rebels' sales pitch.

"They want me at quarterback and that's the position I want to play in college," said Phillips, who threw for 958 yards and nine touchdowns while running for 834 yards and seven touchdowns for the Commodores as a junior. "It's not that big of an issue. I do want to play quarterback, but if not, I will play where I'm needed."

Many believe Phillips would be a dominant wide receiver at the college level. Others see his future in the defensive backfield or at outside linebacker. Regardless, the consensus is he could be a future college star.

"I think I could be a good passer and runner," Phillips said. "I think I could do both."

Despite being in Ole Miss' backyard and close to Mississippi State, Phillips hasn't been giving recruiting much thought. Instead, he's been busy getting ready for his senior year and one last three-sport campaign.

"I went over to Ole Miss once," Phillips said. "I've been busy with football, baseball and basketball. We've had seven-on-seven camps in football and basketball practice."

Phillips went to a combine in Tupelo, Miss., earlier this summer, where he encountered Mississippi State commitments Tyler Russell and Chris Smith, conversations that he said "had a little influence, but not a lot," and he does hope to make it to the Rebels' invitation-only camp on July 26.

However, he's not stressing about the impending decision these days, as he plans to wait until much closer to National Signing Day to really give it consideration.

"I'm not close at all," Phillips said. "It will be the end of my season, so I don't have to worry about it."

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