Millard West defensive end Harrison Phillips — the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder who’s put in a ton of work on the camp and recruiting circuit this spring and summer — received his two biggest offers yet from Pac-12 prestige schools.
After watching Phillips up close for a week at camp, Stanford offered. Monday, UCLA offered. Both teams favor a 3-4 defense, in which Phillips makes for a good fit at defensive end.
The ball is now in Nebraska’s court. The Huskers spent a day scouting Phillips at NU’s Big Red Football School. He went toe-to-toe with Nebraska commit Tanner Farmer, and both players openly admitted most of their battles were a draw.
Phillips said he talked to Bo Pelini after that one-day stint, and Pelini was impressed. But Nebraska was unsure what position Phillips fit within the Huskers’ defense. Is he an end? Is he a three-technique defensive tackle? Is he a fit for offensive line? That was the question. The 2013 class is full of defensive linemen — as it had to be — requiring fewer tackles and ends be taken in this cycle.
Phillips reported that Pelini would provide more of an answer for Phillips in two weeks’ time. Tuesday will be those two weeks. By text, Phillips said he’d talk to NU again toward the end of this week.
The 2014 crop of prospects is the best since 2008, and Nebraska has three in-state commits — Luke Gifford, Mick Stoltenberg and D.J. Foster — so far. Is Phillips that fourth offer?
“It’d be big,” Philips said by text of a potential offer.
Phillips plays with a big-time motor, understands leverage, and has a center-of-gravity that can knock an offensive lineman backward.
Do I think Nebraska recruited a number of those players in the 2013 class? Yes. Some of the prospects are particularly exciting on film.
But would a NU beat writer be worth much salt if he or she didn’t consider the wide, pigskin-profitable history of in-state defensive linemen and what they produced for Nebraska? No. The list of good in-state players who panned out is too long. The list of proven, dominant defensive linemen currently within the Huskers’ program is too short.
NU pays its coaches well to be experts and get this stuff right, and I wrote, just last week, that the Huskers’ patience paid off in a recent run of June recruits. And the Huskers put Phillips through a workout that Phillips admitted was thorough and well-planned. Nebraska’s done its due diligence.
But I’m paid to have a memory, and I do every so often, and to be able to read, which I usually can. So it doesn’t escape me that NU’s entire starting offensive line next year will likely be comprised of Midwestern kids — three of whom will likely hail from Nebraska. And it doesn’t escape me that NU’s best defensive linemen since 2010 were Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler.
Nebraska could wait. There may be time to wait. There are other 3-4 teams in the Big Ten and Big 12, and if Phillips is able to field offers from UCLA and Stanford, he can field offers a lot of places. Offers are often like dominoes. When Stanford — which has a rep for stuffing the run — puts a stamp on it, other teams will notice.