March 5, 2021

The Only Football

Get The Latest NFL News And More!

Undrafted rookie Kyle Phillips becoming a factor…

4 min read
Undrafted rookie Kyle Phillips becoming a factor...


Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ eyes lit up Friday as soon as he was asked about undrafted edge rusher Kyle Phillips.

The 6-foot-4 rookie — the son of a female sports pioneer — has made the most of his unplanned opportunity with the Jets following a collegiate career at Tennessee stunted by three shoulder surgeries.

Phillips has lined up either at outside linebacker or defensive end this season due to various injuries, and according to stats kept by the Jets’ coaching staff, he leads the team in tackles for a loss with 16 entering Sunday’s season finale against Buffalo.

“Excellent. It brings a real good smile on my face,” Williams said after practice. “Mama raised a good young man. I don’t know if you know his mom, but she makes me look soft. She’s done a great job with him.

“He’s a better person than he is a player, and he’s a pretty doggone good player, too. He’s just scratched the surface. The biggest thing for him was to stay healthy, and look what he did.”

The Jets (6-9) rightly feel good about discovering the undrafted Phillips, but perhaps his emergence shouldn’t be a massive surprise, considering his family background.

His mother, Teresa Phillips, was the first African-American female athlete at Vanderbilt as a basketball player in 1977, and she has served as the athletic director at Tennessee State since 2002 after coaching the women’s basketball team for 11 seasons. While serving as the school’s AD, she even took over for one game as the men’s coach during 2002-03 school year — after Nolan Richardson III resigned and the interim coach was suspended following a brawl — becoming the first woman to coach a Division I men’s team.

“It definitely has helped as far as understanding the culture of sports. And I feel like that’s what’s helped me be a very coachable kid because I had a coach as a mom,” Kyle Phillips told The Post. “Just learning how to deal with different styles of coaches, learning how to push through a season, seeing her as a head coach, and being an athletic director at a high position, I’ve seen the everyday grind of what it takes to be successful.

Kyle Phillips
Kyle PhillipsBill Kostroun

“It’s helped me translate that into my own career in sports. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity I had, and especially it being my mom.”

Phillips didn’t know at first if he’d have this opportunity with the Jets, but he impressed the coaching staff by “always being around the ball” during the preseason, according to head coach Adam Gase.

“For a guy like that, who kind of comes under the radar, he just did a good job of doing his job all through camp. He just kept making plays when he had opportunities,” Gase said. “Preseason games, he showed up. He was just always one of those guys you never heard anything negative about. … It was a positive for us, because it was kind of finding one of those guys you just didn’t expect it from.”

The 24-year-old Phillips recorded his first full sack last Sunday against Pittsburgh, giving him 1.5 for the season. He doesn’t care whether he plays linebacker or defensive end, saying “just being on the field is good enough,” but he hopes such versatility helps him earn even more reps next season.

“I knew there was a great chance that I wasn’t going to get drafted, but my main goal was to make the roster and that’s what I did,” Phillips said. “My next goal was how can I make an impact on the team? So it was just taking steps day-by-day and not getting down on what my situation may be. Just keep working and working, and moving forward. That’s what’s allowed me to step up and have an impact.

“It’s definitely exciting. I feel like I’ve just gotten better every day, and bought into what our defensive scheme is and what our culture is. I think I’m definitely somebody that fits into the culture Gregg is trying to get here with the defense. We still have a long way to go, still have some work to do, but it’s definitely a blessing for my hard work to come to fruition.”

https://nypost.com/2019/12/28/undrafted-rookie-kyle-phillips-becoming-a-factor-for-jets/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *