When the head coach is a former high school wrestling standout, it only stands to reason that a college prospect with a similar background is going to have some added appeal.
That was the case when Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott took a closer look at Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, whom the team made a third-round pick in the NFL Draft last Friday night.
‘(Scouts) were telling me, ‘Now, when we go meet him in this interview, don’t be afraid to go hit a wrestling move on him or something’
“I had been meeting with a lot of the scouts and prior to that, they kept saying, ‘Oh, you know our coach is a wrestler. Oh, he loves this about you … blah, blah blah,'” Phillips told Vic Carucci and Dan Leberfeld on Press Coverage. “They were telling me, ‘Now, when we go meet him in this interview, don’t be afraid to go hit a wrestling move on him or something.’ And, I mean, that kind of matches my personality. I’m kind of silly, goofy, but I’m fairly professional as well. So I was like, ‘I think, for my first time meeting him, I want to give him a firm handshake. I don’t know if I want to pick him up over my head real quick.’
“So I walk in, nervous as could be. and reached out my hand. And he swipes it by and tries to hit a quick ankle-pick-dump on me or something. He knocked a water bottle out of my hand. He couldn’t pick me up, obviously, but he definitely got into it to the point where I really had to sprawl and whizzer if I wanted to get out of it.”
‘The playbook comes very natural to me’
The bond was made. Phillips figures to be a prominent part of the Bills’ defensive line rotation, along with fellow tackles Kyle Williams and free-agent acquisition Star Lotulelei. A big part of Phillips’ game is his excellent motor. However, as aggressively as he played in college, he also knew how to stay under control with his movement and fully expects that to be the case in the NFL.
“The playbook comes very natural to me,” Phillips said. “I know my responsibility, I understand how the defense works, to a subconsciously amount. I can do it with the eyes closed, things like that almost. The thing I battle with is keeping that high motor and in college having to play 90 snaps a game, having to play a 15-play drive and not coming out, and weighing 310 pounds. And, so, that was the battle that I had is, ‘OK, there’s a very, very good chance I’m probably not going to catch this person who just caught the ball, but do I need to sprint as hard as I can to go get to that person in case he fumbles and I can be there? And if I do that and they’re running the hurry-up offense like we do in the Pac-12, am I going to have enough wind to get back to the line, get set, get the call, get down and then sprint upfield as fast as I can if it’s a bootleg and I’ve got to chase the quarterback?’
‘I understand that I’m probably not going to have a hundred-play game’
“That’s more of the battle that I had, but I understand that I’m probably not going to have a hundred-play game. And I’m probably not going to see, I mean, I played that Oregon team three or four years ago that was snapping the ball every 13 seconds or whatever it was. I probably won’t see that anymore. So instead of people saying, ‘High effort, consistent,’ I’m excited to know that, ‘Oh, it’s my rotation, I know I’m on the field for the next three to seven plays, whatever it may be, (and) you’re going to see flash. And that’s what I want.”
Music, Sports, News and more
All in one place on the SiriusXM app