Harrison Phillips the Husker? NFL rookie from Millard West reflects on why he went to Stanford instead

July 14, 2018

Harrison Phillips had an All-Pac 12 career at Stanford, got selected in the NFL draft, but still gets asked about Nebraska.

It happened Friday when the former high school athlete of the year from Millard West appeared on “The Bottom Line.” He was asked to reflect on his recruitment, how he ended up at Stanford and where the Huskers fit in the process.

He went back to 2013, the summer before his senior year of high school. Phillips had participated in a bunch of camps throughout the region and earned scholarship offers at every stop. He came to Nebraska confident he’d get one there, too.

The Husker coaches — Bo Pelini’s staff at the time — followed his every move, “even watched me drink water,” Phillips said. He did reps at nearly every spot on the defensive and offensive lines, even some work at tight end. Phillips said he “outperformed the majority of the people there” — but an offer didn’t come that day.

“I talked to coaches,” Phillips said, “and they said, ‘We don’t have a position exactly for where we’d see you. We’re just gonna kinda wait a little bit.’”

Other schools weren’t waiting. Phillips continued to add offers. He took a trip to Stanford, excelled at that camp and had an offer by the time he got back to Omaha.

Nebraska did eventually extend Phillips an offer, but he didn’t take it. He went to Stanford, became a second-team All-American and is now ready to embark on his NFL career after getting drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the third round.

Check out the video below for Phillips’ entire interview reflecting on his recruitment, Stanford career and goals for the NFL. Or you can check out a transcript of select excerpts.

On the academic workload at Stanford:

“The course load is really difficult. I made it even harder on myself by double majoring. There wasn’t a semester I didn’t have less than 20 credit hours, sometimes up to 23 credit hours in a semester, seven classes. It’s very difficult to balance all that. It’s sad to say sometimes, but football was first. The dream has always been the NFL. So if anything had to sacrifice, it would’ve been studying, but obviously I came through and did well and graduated with some honors.”

On his recruiting process:

“It came down to UCLA, Kansas State, Nebraska, Stanford. That was like the four. I committed in June before my senior year, and then as my senior year went, I ended up getting a bunch of late offers from the big, big schools, the SEC ones and pretty much the rest of the Big Ten. But no need to go public with things like that because I was hard committed to Stanford, and after I committed I kept falling more and more in love with it.”

On getting offered by Stanford after impressing at a camp there:

“By the time I landed in Omaha they called and offered me a scholarship. It was cool. I just dove back in my bed, kinda threw my phone, didn’t even hear what he was saying because the phone wasn’t there. I was just in a bliss.”

On comparisons to 13-year Bills veteran Kyle Williams:

“What he’s done is remarkable. To be compared to a five-time Pro Bowler, 13-year (veteran), that’s high expectations, which is great. I love that. But I have a lot of things I need to work on in order to possibly be in consideration for those.”

On whether he feels slighted after falling to the third round of the NFL draft:

“The chip on my shoulder might be there. I’ll always have a chip on my shoulder, but it’s not to prove the other 31 teams wrong. I’m not sitting there saying, ‘Oh these guys had the 32nd pick and they didn’t pick me. These guys had the 41st pick and didn’t pick me.’ It’s not like that. It’s just that I feel like I don’t want to prove the other 31 teams wrong. I want to prove Buffalo right. They were the team that picked me, so I want to make them look like geniuses.”

On how wrestling helped him in football:

“There’s a huge, huge, huge, huge correlation. ... Toughness is so important in the game, and wrestling, that’s the whole sport, mental and physical toughness. The mentality of not letting a person beat you, that’s the whole part of the D-line. And all the physical attributes of all the hits and balance and explosiveness and violence and wanting to beat somebody. That was kinda my backbone through the combine process and interviews. ... They want to see you be ferocious and violent, and wrestling brings that.”

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