DJ Phillips’ skill matches size


DJ Phillips’ skill matches size

At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, DeShaun “DJ” Phillips is hard to miss on the football field.
But great size needs to be accompanied by great skill, and Phillips is showing he has the complete package.
Only a sophomore last season at Overhills High School in Spring Lake, North Carolina, Phillips was understandably a little nervous when he entered the year as the Jaguars’ starting varsity quarterback.
“The first couple of games, I had some nerves,” Phillips said. “But as the season went on, I got used to playing at that level and I just went out and played my best.”
Considering his lack of experience, Phillips went out and played extremely well. He passed for 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 2 more scores.
“Being a sophomore on the varsity, I don’t think I did that bad for my first year,” Phillips said. “This year, I hope to improve our record and make it into the playoffs and win the state championship.”
Those are some big-time goals, considering Overhills finished with a 2-9 record last season. But with a full year of varsity experience under his belt, Phillips is out to prove his he has the talent to lead the Jaguars to a successful season.

Experience counts

“I know what I’m looking for going into the season,” Phillips said. “With the experience I gained last year, I’m not going in not knowing what’s going to happen.”
Phillips expects to be much more comfortable operating out of Overhills’ spread offense, and he’s been getting better and better since he started playing QB in seventh grade.
“Quarterback is the main position on the field, and that’s why I like playing the position,” Phillips said. “Everybody’s got their eyes on the quarterback and he’s in control of the field, calling the shots.”
Phillips enhanced his substantial skills when he attended his first NFA camp this year and worked with Coach Darin Slack.
“Working with Mr. Darin Slack really helped me,” Phillips said. “He’s a very good motivational speaker and he taught me a lot. And with my height, he worked with me on my release and helped me with my arm mechanics.”

Duel success

The work with Coach Slack and NFA payed off quickly. Invited to last month’s Duel in Massillon, Ohio, Phillips finished second in the Class of 2016 competition.
“With quarterbacks from all across the country being there, I knew there was going to be some good competition out there,” Phillips said. “I just wanted to go out there and do my best and take home first place. Finishing second, it’s all right, but I wanted to finish first.”
The competitive fire is there, along with the big-time talent. It’s no wonder Phillips is already hearing from some local colleges despite having just one season of varsity experience.
“Playing college football has been a goal since the end of my sophomore season,” he said. “I think I have the skill and I believe I can be a collegiate level quarterback.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University