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January 11, 2005SAN ANTONIO, Texas - In the initial Rivals.com player rankings, Miami Carol City safety Kenneth Phillips was ranked as the nation's No. 2 player. After a slow start on the field as a senior, the five-star player was lowered slightly. However, after an impressive first two days at the national high school all-star game, it's become very clear that Phillips belongs in the upper crust of the nation's elite prospects.
"I have just been working hard and trying to do my best out here this week," Phillips said. "I know that I am competing against the best of the best and this is a really good opportunity to see what things will be like on the next level. I think my best attribute is my size. A lot of defensive backs have speed, agility and instincts, but not many have my size. I try to use my size to advantage sometimes.
"It seems like wide receivers are getting taller each year and most defensive backs are 5-foot-11 or 6-foot and they just can't cover those guys. I'm almost 6-foot-3 so I actually have the advantage on a lot of receivers and the one's that are taller than me aren't a lot taller so I match up with them much better than most of the other defensive backs do."
Phillips is a big 6-foot-2, 195-pound kid that runs well and has tremendous instincts.
He has the size of a linebacker, the speed of a wide receiver and loves to hit. Combine all of those elements and what you have is a scary talent. He has a knack for finding the football and has simply dominated all wide receivers in one on one drill's with the exception of Patrick Turner.
The two have gone head-to-head very few times so far in the first two practice's, but right now the match-up seems to be a dead heat as they have each gotten the best of each other once.
"Pat man, he is a big time player," Phillips said. "He is big aggressive and he likes to use his hands. He has real good hands and he knows how to use his size and speed. I get to cover a lot of big time players being down in South Florida, but I have never seen anyone like him. In my opinion he is the best player that I have seen down here."
Phillips has also been the topic of conversation all over the message boards in recent weeks.
It seemed like all along that he was headed to Miami, and then he came and out said in several interviews that he had eliminated all schools except Florida, Florida State and Miami from his list. However, one SEC team didn't give up and has stayed persistent and it has paid off.
"I wasn't even taking calls from Tennessee for a long time," Phillips said. "Then one night I just started talking to them. Coach Trooper Taylor called me and he said 'do me a favor and watch our secondary and you will see how badly we need safeties.' So I did watch them and he was right. I noticed that they had moved Jason Allen back there and I saw the need they have."
Phillips is certainly a busy guy this week because of obligations of the all-star game, but his hectic schedule won't slow down any time soon. He is already booked pretty much through signing day and doesn't even get to go straight home after the game is over on Saturday.
"I leave straight from here on Sunday morning going to Tennessee on an official visit," Phillips said. "I will get back from that and go home a couple of days and then I am going to Miami on my official visit next weekend on the 21 of this month. I am still planning to take my official visit to Florida State, but it's just for fun mostly."
Phillips maintains that he is going to hold out on announcing his decision until signing day and that his decision is going to come down to Miami and Tennessee. It could ultimately be his relationship with the coach that is recruiting him that leads him to his decision.
"Coach Shannon is recruiting me from Miami," Phillips said.
"He is a nice guy and he calls me all the time. A lot of times when he calls he just calls to talk about life and ask me how my family is doing. We don't always even talk about recruiting. He is always asking me if I need anything and tells me that any of their coaches are there for me and will be there for me in the future.
"Coach Taylor at Tennessee is just a fun guy to be around. Every time he or any of the Tennessee coaches come over to my house they always eat up my food. I like how they make themselves feel at home with me, it shows that they are comfortable with me and they feel like they can be themselves and not just be the guy that is recruiting me.
"He is always cracking jokes and he is just so down to earth. He can be serious when he needs to be and is really there for them if they ever need him just to talk or anything."