May 18, 2009

Ole Miss signee thinking about sport switch

Montez Phillips spent from the summer of 2008 to late winter 2009 as the main character in a recruiting soap opera before finally settling on the hometown Rebels as his college football choice.

The Oxford (Lafayette) athlete committed to Mississippi State in July, opened things back up a day later, re-committed to the Bulldogs in early August and eventually switched to Ole Miss in December after MSU coach Sylvester Croom resigned. Even then things were shaky almost until the signature was received on signing day.

Well, another chapter may be opening.

Phillips, a three-star football prospect, began his senior baseball season just after signing day, and the outfielder's stock has been rising ever since. After hitting .476 with eight home runs and 17 stolen bases, Phillips was named to the all-state team recently.

The success of the season and his desire for the diamond has Phillips (6-foot-3, 190) thinking about switching the sport he wants to play in college. Instead of attending Ole Miss on a football scholarship - or getting placed by the Rebels if he doesn't qualify -- Phillips is entertaining an offer to play baseball for Northwest Community College.

"I've been weighing the possibility of playing baseball at Northwest for a couple weeks now," Phillips said. "The idea would be to play for a year and then either get drafted or move on to a four-year school and continue with baseball."

Ole Miss coaches asked Phillips about his enthusiasm for baseball during his recruitment, but the want wasn't as strong at that point. However, the aspirations have surfaced since.

"We talked about it on the visit, but at that time, I told them I was just focused on football. That was before this season. I just have a lot of fun, and it's the first sport I ever played. It's exciting either way. Whichever will be a good situation."

Phillips' decision should happen soon, as he plans to sit down with his family after graduation this Friday and hash it all out.

"I really do (enjoy baseball more than football)," Phillips said. "It's a tough decision."

Professional scouts showed some interest earlier in the calendar year, but Phillips said he hasn't heard anything in a while now. At one point, a few teams were slotting the all-around athlete as a possibility in the later rounds of the MLB Draft in June.

"I haven't thought much about the draft because I don't want to be disappointed. Ole Miss and Northwest are what's on my mind."

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