Thirty years after he completed his college football career in Lexington, Carlos Phillips’ son committed to play football for Mark Stoops at the University of Kentucky.
Monday night Andru Phillips rolled the dice, becoming the third member of UK’s 2020 recruiting class. After playing high school football in Mauldin, South Carolina, the three-star cornerback decided to return to his home state of Kentucky to play for his father’s alma mater.
In a conversation with KSR, Carlos Phillips said he never pushed his son to choose UK.
“First and foremost, he’s my son. He’s not a football player to me. He’s my son and I wanted him to go somewhere I thought he was going to have a good support network and his best chance of achieving his goals. The University of Kentucky certainly fits that bill,” the elder Phillips said.
“I wanted Andru to play and go to school where ever he thought would be the best fit for him. He knows where my heart is, but I really tried to step back and just be a guide more so than a director in this whole process. He’s been a UK fan for quite some time and that was his first offer. He looked at other places but I think he really settled on where he could go and felt like he could take the team to the next level, and also a place where it felt like family. Kentucky fit both of those for him and without much if any encouragement from me.”
Originally from Owensboro, Phillips played with Mark Higgs on the Red Devils’ team that fell to Trinity in the 1983 4A State Championship. Phillips agreed to play for Jerry Claiborne’s Wildcats in 1986. At UK he changed positions each year, bouncing from one linebacker position to another.
He did not push his son to UK, but the former Wildcat will be proud to see his son in blue and white.
“Oh yeah, for a few reasons. A, I’m convinced that he’ll have more of an impact on the football field there than I did. I’m anxious to see that. Also, the school, the education I received there has served me well and I think he could benefit from that similarly. I think Coach Stoops has just rebuilt the culture there on the football team and about football in Kentucky. That’s great. And we have a lot of friends and family back there at home so he’s got a good support network as well.”
One of those friends is former teammate Bill Allen. Since the Cats started recruiting Andru, he befriended Allen’s son, Beau.
“It’s pretty neat now as our sons are being recruited, we would see each other at camps and things like that and catch up. Now I’m hoping that Beau decides to come to UK.”
If Beau commits to Kentucky, he’ll have a hard-hitting friend on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Andru Phillips enjoys popping people in the mouth.
“It’s as though he likes doing that,” said the somewhat concerned father. “I think sometimes he’s too aggressive because he’s not the biggest guy out there. But he doesn’t mind the contact. I think what makes him unique, he can cover you. He’s pretty versatile and he’s a bit of an athletic freak as well.”
Carlos does not take credit for Andru’s athleticism. That all goes to his mother, LaTonya, a former state champion sprinter at Danville High School.
“He’s got an athleticism I was never blessed with, and very few people are,” said Carlos. “I gave him the smarts and the Denzel-esque good looks. I guess the athleticism came from his mom.”
on who I don’t got no bounce… pic.twitter.com/lLM9GneYHw
— dru (@AndruPhillips) February 27, 2019
Andru Phillips has enough athleticism to be an SEC defensive back, but he has plenty of room to grow as a player. Stoops’ reputation as a talent developer, especially in the secondary, was one significant reason why the Phillips family was happy to send their son to Kentucky.
“The defensive backfield last year was all about development. I don’t know how many of those guys were four-star or five-star guys, but that was a heck of a defensive backfield. He did the some thing at Florida State and he’s done it throughout his coaching career,” Carlos Phillips said.
“That was a factor, but again, I just think the culture that Coach Stoops is building there, the culture of accountability. He’s bringing in better athletes and he’s working their tail off. Those kids, you get tired watching them practice. Combine all that with the culture and it made the University fo Kentucky a very attractive choice. Andru had close to 20 offers and more were going to come in, but he feels really good and really excited about the future at the University of Kentucky and he wants to play a role in helping to not only sustain the current level of success, but he wants to help them win an SEC Championship.”
Throughout Andru’s time at UK, Carlos will be smiling from the Kroger Field stands.
“It’s like a brotherhood. When you practice and go through trials and successes with these guys, it becomes family.”