2020 NFL Draft Longshot – Sam Phillips



Every year we talk about prospects that are either from small schools that have little exposure hoping for their shot at the NFL.   They come from different backgrounds have different stories and in some cases so seriously bad luck.   Many never get their shot.  They sit through seven rounds of the draft and wait a week for a call that never comes.  The lucky ones have a card turned in at the draft with their name on it to be announced to the NFL world.   Others spend the last few hours of the draft listening to their agents talk to teams about going to rookie camp as a free agent.

Sam Phillips is one of those prospects.  The 6’3 – 241lbs tight end/H-Back had his own special circumstances that he is trying to overcome.  Sam played at Division III Louisiana College as a tight end he lined up all over the formation.  He lined up as an H/Back or fullback at times, lined up as a detached Y tight and even out wide as a receiver.  He had limited catch production in 2018 with 9 catches.  His 2019 season was over before it started as he was told prior to the start of the season that his eligibility had run out.

It is hard enough for players to get to the NFL for years of college football.  Sam would have to try and get noticed after missing all of 2019 without injury.  He spent 4-5 days a week in the weight room.  Sam also hit the field to run drills and do some fieldwork.  He wasn’t totally disheartened.  As a matter of fact, he looked at it as an extra redshirt year.  While it doesn’t simulate game action it does at least keep some of your skills sharp.

I got my first glimpse of Sam at the FCS/National Bowl Allstar weekend last December.  This is an event that showcases talent from all the levels of college football below FBS.  What caught my eye with him was not the route running ability, but the willingness to showcase his ability no matter what they asked him to do.  At one point the coaches had left the 1 on 1 pass-catching drills, and had him jump in with the offensive line 1 on 1 pass protection drills versus the defensive line.  Not only did he jump in without hesitation, but he held his own in protection.  That fits what he feels is his best trait.  He will never let anyone outwork him.  He wants to compete and believes that drive will make him successful.  Tight ends that can block and catch are at a premium no matter where you get them in the draft.  Factor in he also played on special teams as well.  He is a commodity.

In today’s era of tight ends that are mostly pass-catchers the ones that can block as well are of high value.  His ability to make a difference as a receiver, blocker, and special team player would be the best way to make an impact.  There will always other tight ends that are either bigger, faster, stronger, more athletic or any combination of those that he will have to compete against.  The main focus is for him is to keep getting better and stay ready for an opportunity.

The National Bowl invited Phillips to play in their Allstar game last December.   The College Gridiron Showcase invited him to participate as well despite missing all of the 2019 season.  Instead of sitting on his hands, he’s been working with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark down in Baton Rouge, LA getting ready for workouts as he was scheduled to participate at Louisiana Tech’s Pro Day and the New Orleans Saints Rookie workout.  Both of those opportunities have become unlikely now that teams from all leagues are pulling the scouts off the road with the Covid-19 outbreak.

The uncertainty surrounding Sam and other players wondering what is in store for them now with the whole sports world virtually paralyzed by this virus all he can do is keep working.  Keep working and hope that when he gets his opportunity to showcase what he can do.

Jeff Barnes
About Jeff Barnes 22 Articles
Born in the Bronx, NY Jeff attended Mount Saint Michael Academy. He played Defensive back and Halfback, and was a member of the Catholic High School Football League 1992 City Championship team. During his Senior Year he led CHSFL with 4 Interceptions as a cornerback. In 1994, Jeff attended Grambling State University. After leaving school in 1995, he started playing in the United Football League. He would play for 8 years earning 3 Allstar nominations in the UFL and GSFL ( Garden State Football League). After retiring, he decided that coaching was his next challenge, he would start out as a Defensive Backs coach. He was elevated to Defensive Coordinator the following season. He would later shift his focus to offense becoming an offensive coordinator, and was even named Head Coach in 2009. He would serve as a coordinator reaching 4 league championship games. The highlight was his final season as offensive coordinator winning the New England Football League AAA Championship in 2016 with the Western Connecticut Militia. He picked up a knack for developing players with little to no experience as well as former collegiate athletes. Jeff has knowledge of several offensive systems such as Air Coryell, West Coast, Spread and Wishbone. Jeff has coached both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. Jeff is also a Sports Management Worldwide Alumni having been mentored in a scouting and General Manager course by Russ Lande, Mark Dominik and John Wooten. Jeff joined the Major League Football show MLF Weekly as a studio analyst in 2017. He would leave the show in 2018 as he relocated to Florida. He has returned to coaching at the high school level.

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