Phillips’ signing could make spring most competitive for FAMU quarterbacks
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Unlike most of the high school football players who commiserated over which college they’d play for before making their decision on signing day, D.J. Phillips had something else that made him a little eager.
The former Rickards High School quarterback simply wanted to sign the dotted lines to play at FAMU. Deciding where to go wasn’t too difficult, with his only other choice being Georgia Southern.
He was the only quarterback signed by FAMU on a day when defensive players led the new Rattlers among the 25 signees. Sixteen of them are from Florida high schools. Defensive back Chris Jerry out of North Florida Christian was the only other local player signed by FAMU.
Now that the deal is done with FAMU, Phillips expressed an eagerness last Wednesday to go out and compete for a starting job with the Rattlers.
“I’m just ready to get going,” Phillips said in a packed Rickards High School gymnasium. “I’m ready to compete hopefully for a job. I’m ready to be a part of the football team.
“They are very talented. A lot of those guys had some pretty big-time offers coming out of high school and I look forward to competing against those guys, learning the playbook and what I can do to improve myself.”
His main competitors will be Ryan Stanley, who finished the season under center for the Rattlers, and Kenny Ryan. FAMU also has Vincent Jeffries and Tahj Colbert who are expected to be in the competition at quarterback.
Phillips’ presence means that coach Alex Wood will have his most competitive spring camp for the right to lead his offense. He said he expects Phillips to be a strong competitor.
“He has fairly good quarterback skills and that addresses the mentality of it as well as the physicality of it,” Wood said. “He is what we have been looking for.”
Phillips, 6-foot-3,190-pounds, was named to the All-Big Bend postseason team this past season, following up on his selection to the 2015 Big Bend second team. This past season, he also was named Tallahassee Quarterback Club’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Phillips carried the Raiders to their first trip in the third round of the state playoffs, passing for 2,635 yards. He threw for 23 touchdowns, with six interceptions, while rushing for 605 yards on 93 carries.
“I think he may be a blessing for FAMU,” said Rickards coach Quintin Lewis. “FAMU has been looking for a quarterback (and) I think he’s going to be the man for them. He is going to be in the orange and green.
“I think the level of football he played in high school is going to allow him to come in and play. He has to make a little adjustment to the speed but as long as he puts that work in he can go right in and play.”