Phillips: 'I never understood mediocrity or complacency'

August 2, 2018

The first week of Buffalo Bills training camp from St. John Fisher College has come and gone, and rookies like defensive tackle Harrison Phillips are getting ready for their first season as a professional in the National Football League.

As a senior at Millard West High School, Phillips was named the Nebraska Gatorade Football Player of the Year. Upon graduating, he attended Stanford University and played for the Stanford Cardinal where he gently terrorized Pac-12 quarterbacks for three years. As a true freshman in 2014, Phillips played in only four games, recording nine tackles. During his sophomore year, he played in only one game before suffering a torn ACL. He decided to redshirt the remainder of that season.

Determined to make a comeback as a redshirt sophomore, he had 46 tackles in 12 games, including 10 tackles for loss. In 2017, he recorded 98 tackles, including 7.5 sacks. His efforts rewarded him with being named to the All Pac-12 First Team. He was also named to the All Pac-12 All-Academic First Team. After graduating in December of 2017, Phillips decided to forgo his redshirt senior year and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. At the combine, Phillips ran a 5.21 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225-pounds a whopping 42 times.

The Bills ended up selecting Phillips with their third round pick (96th overall) in this past April's draft.

“I was at 20-23 [credits], taking six to seven classes a semester on top of the double major, I also minored in Education,” detailed the 6’ 3”, 307-pound lineman with Howard and Jeremy at Bills training camp on Thursday. “If anything had to suffer, unfortunately, it had to be school because I had a mission to play in the NFL. If I needed to sleep or get an extra lift in, maybe I wouldn’t have studied as hard or waited until the last minute to do some type of homework.

"I never really understood mediocrity or complacency. I always wanted to constantly improve in all aspects of my life.”

Phillips could also quickly become a fan favorite as he tries to personally respond to all of his fan mail.

“I remember growing up, how much it meant to me to talk to athletes. I was in middle school and the Millard West starting quarterback, he was everything, and there was a D-lineman there who probably never even went on to play in college, but I just thought the world of him,” recalled the Omaha, Nebraska native. “I just hoped that when I got to that platform, those kids were doing the same thing I was doing. Anytime I can go back and tell them the same message they’ve been hearing somebody else, maybe they’d be more willing to listen because of who it came from.”

But don’t be fooled. He might seem like a nice guy, but once he steps on the gridiron, he’s a different man.

“It’s a very brutal, violent game. It’s like a protective instinct to protect my teammates. I don’t want anyone to hurt them, so I can definitely flip the switch and be very violent, but at the same sense, if I had the opportunity to do something dirty to someone, I wouldn’t. Injuries are the worst part of the game,” said Phillips.

Of course, being a graduate of Stanford, Phillips says that he loves the game behind the game.

“It’s really, really fun. One of my favorite parts of the game is the intellectual side and anticipating plays. Watching film is probably my favorite hobby.”

You can hear Phillips’ entire interview with Howard and Jeremy below: