As families across America clean up their neighborhood streets of firework debris from the previous nights celebration of American independence, Skyler Phillips (6’3”/330) hopes to kick off and end his fourth-of-July weekend with an explosion and celebration of his own.
“I really want to prove to myself that I am a decent football player,” said Phillips. “I’m excited to get up there and finally put some pads on and compete.”
If you haven’t heard too much about Phillips, you’re not alone. From Churchill High School in Eugene, OR, Phillips has spent much of his time in the recruiting sphere under the radar. It wasn’t until the Nike football camp circuit came to Eugene in June that Phillips would make a name for himself.
“Not in a million years did I think that it (Nike camp) would turn out the way it did,” he said. “I went in there expecting to do mediocre but I remember thinking at one point ‘you know what, I can hang with these guys’.”
During the first day of camp athletes from across the western region participated in SPARQ testing. Well, to say Phillips did pretty well would be an understatement. He would only go on to post the best SPARQ score of any offensive lineman in the country of the year with a rating of 98.58, running a 5.3 laser-timed 40, tossing the medicine ball forty-four feet, running 4.81 in the 20-yard shuttle and jumping 25.1 in the vertical.
That wasn’t all, though. The next day during on the field drills and competition Phillips impressed with quick feet and a powerful strike during the one on ones. After two days of training Phillips would win the OL MVP award from the Nike coaches over some of the more highly touted offensive lineman like Evan Voeller and Scott Quessenberry also in attendance.
“That surprised me. It was a great honor and a really big surprise. I’m just thankful that I put everything on the line and I did as well as I did.”
After camp, the west coast recruiting world began buzzing about Phillips’ performance, and it wouldn’t take long for word to reach the guys at Nike.
“The Monday after the weekend happened I just got home from school and got the call,” he said. “I just about dropped my phone right there because it’s a pretty big deal. It was crazy.”
Now one day away from the opening, Phillips, still without a scholarship offer, will make the hour-and-a-half drive to Beaverton from Eugene hoping to duplicate his performance at the NFTC, gain recognition amongst the nation’s best and possibly receive his first offer.
“I definitely think it’s a possibility,” he added. “I would be ecstatic and astounded honestly, this is all such a new experience for me so it’s all so surreal.”
Phillips insists, however, that his nose-to-the-grindstone mentality is what helped him do so well in Eugene, and he will bring that same attitude to the opening.
“I think that my biggest advantage going into the Eugene camp was not knowing what I was going to go do,” he said. “I’m sticking with that, I want to go off the element of surprise. I just want to go in there and give it everything I got.”