Blake Phillips gives back to NFA


Blake Phillips started training with NFA when he was in fifth grade. Looking back on it now, it was a very wise decision.

“NFA has been vital to my development, and not just on the football field but in the classroom,” Phillips said. “I already see myself thriving in the business world just with the character traits that have been developed through (NFA President/Founder) Darin Slack and Coach (Adam) Britt, Coach (JC) Boice, Coach (Will) Hewlett and a lot of other coaches. Having that kind of exposure at such a young age really helped me develop into a better football player and a better person.”

To show his appreciation, Phillips started giving back. In June, he participated in the NFA Mentor program and assisted Coach Boice at the Detroit regional group training camp.

“It was my first time, and I’m going to do as many as I can over the next couple summers and springs and winters,” Phillips said. “Help out as much as I can and give back. It means a lot. You see kids who are in the same situations you used to be in. It’s good to be there to help everyone out. There are a lot of kids I could see from the one day I spent with JC, I could see they grew a lot mentally and physically. It’s good to experience that first hand. Going back and seeing a lot of kids that kind of look up to you and call you coach, it’s a great experience.”

After playing high school football at Kentucky Country Day School in Louisville, Phillips has moved on to the college level at University of Findlay in Ohio.

“Blake was among the hardest working boys we’ve had come through the academies,” Coach Slack said. “He really struggled early on catching up to the teaching. But when his body and strength caught up to what he understood about playing quarterback, the result was something many wouldn’t have said was possible if they had seen him at the beginning. He overcame adversity and a slow start to become exactly what he said he would be, a successful college quarterback, and he remains one of NFA’s great success stories!”

Phillips was redshirted last season, so he still has four years of eligibility at Findlay. He used the down time to learn the Oilers’ system and bulk up.

“Redshirting definitely helps your character and helps you grow you into athlete,” said Phillips, who is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.

Findlay’s No. 1 quarterback is Rhys Gervais, a Western Illinois transfer and likely Preseason All-American candidate. Phillips is not backing down from competing for playing time.

“Right now, I’m battling for the second-string spot,” he said. “There is going to be competition in all parts of your life, football, business, whatever field of life you’re in. You can’t shy away from it.”

If he gets on the field for the Oilers this season, or at some point down the road, look for Phillips to be a difference maker.

“I think whether it’s on the field or off the field, I’ll make an impact,” he said. “I just look forward to progressing in the program. I want to develop trust on the field since I’m not as battle-tested as a lot of the guys at the college level. I want to be able to show I can take the hit and move the chains every series. Spring went pretty well for me, I got a lot more reps. I’m definitely excited to show the coaches and my teammates what I can do.”.

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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