John Phillips, current tight-end for the Dallas Cowboys, was a defensive end at Bath County High School in Hot Springs, Va. While at Bath, Phillips earned several awards including first-team all-state tight end (as a junior and senior) as well as all district honors in both baseball and basketball.
Phillips attended the University of Virginia where he posted the second-best performance by a Cavaliers tight end in school history. He played and started all 12 games, earned first team All-ACC honors, and was a team captain.
In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys used their second selection in the sixth round (208th overall) of the draft to pick up Phillips.
Q & A
Q: During high school, what sports were you playing? And did you know all along that you wanted to play football in college, and then professionally?
A: I was a three-sport athlete. I played baseball, basketball and football. I always knew I wanted to play professionally, but I didn't know if I wanted to play baseball or football. I wanted to play either.
Q: When did you start getting interest from college coaches?
A: I started getting interest around my sophomore year, but was heavily recruited during my junior year. To be honest, I was fortunate that I had schools approaching me.
Q: Why did you ultimately choose the University of Virginia? How many other schools were you looking at?
A: I looked at about 3 or 4 different schools but felt that UVA would give me the best opportunity to make it to the NFL. That was my ultimate goal. Everything I did was all about reaching that goal.
Q: Who was pivotal in helping you through the recruiting process and why?
A: Hands down…my dad. We actually think a lot alike, and I know he, more so than anyone else, was always looking out for my best interest.
Q: What was the most challenging part of the recruiting process, if any?
A: Tearing my ACL in high school. It was a crucial time and being sidelined was tough. It was stressful thinking about whether or not I dropped off of a coach’s radar, and seeing who still had me high on their board spot.
Q: You tore your ACL in college too, and then again last season with the Cowboys. What advice would you give to athletes who suffer setbacks in the form of injury?
A: Set goals. Pray. And, most importantly stick to your rehab. Do what you have to do [to get back out there]!
Q: What do you think are the three most important qualities college football coaches look for in potential players?
A: Athletic ability. Coachablity. And intangibles such as a player’s drive, determination, etc.
Q: What were some of the lessons that you learned your freshman year of college that still hold true professionally?
A: First and foremost, I learned how to balance my own responsibilities. It was a time I really grew as an athlete, and as an adult.
Q: What tips or advice do you have for student-athletes who want to continue their sport past high school?
A: You have to remember that you are a STUDENT-athlete in college. You have to have the grades to be able to play.