Antonio Phillips was the heart and soul of Ball State’s secondary for the past few years, compiling 137 tackles, 18 passes defended and eight interceptions. He’s hoping to bring that type of an impact to an NFL team this fall.
Following the 2020 season, Phillips announced that he was declaring for the NFL Draft. It wasn’t easy leaving Ball State, but at least he ended his collegiate career with a MAC championship and victory in the Arizona Bowl.
During his time in college, Phillips showed great ball skills. Additionally, he proved that he can be a force in the run game as well. It’s not very often that cornerbacks are sure tacklers, but Phillips’ aggressive nature has allowed him to excel in that department.
With the NFL Draft only a few weeks away, we sat down with Antonio Phillips to discuss his career at Ball State, his best attributes on the field and much more.
The Spun: You had a great career at Ball State. What was your favorite moment during your time there?
Antonio Phillips: My favorite moment was when we held up the MAC championship at the end of this past season. My favorite individual moment, however, would probably be my pick-six against San Jose State.
The Spun: You had a nice interception during the MAC Championship Game. What would you say that play showed about your skillset?
AP: In that game, specifically, I showed my ability to bounce back and overcome adversity. I got beat a little bit earlier in the game, but I kept my head up and had that next-play mentality. l was eventually able to bounce back and make a huge play for our team.
Heck of a play by Phillips on this INT!pic.twitter.com/5o9wwcxel3
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) December 19, 2020
The Spun: Which cornerbacks do you like to study on film?
AP: Of course. First of all, I watch football in general. Whenever football is on, I’m glued to the screen. I like to watch Jalen Ramsey, Stephon Gilmore, Tre’Davious White – he’s probably my favorite cornerback. Then I also like to watch guys that came from small schools like me that paved the way. Sean Murphy-Bunting and Kavon Frazier are two great examples.
The Spun: You were invited to the NFL Combine. What did that mean to you?
AP: It meant the world to me. We’ve seen so many great players shine at the NFL Combine before, so just being in this position where I can do the same thing really means so much. I was just so grateful for that invite.
— Ball State Football (@BallStateFB) February 1, 2021
The Spun: What are your greatest qualities on the field?
AP: First of all, my physicality in the open field is something that can definitely help a team out. I also feel like my ball skills are great. When the ball is in the air, I turn into a receiver. My ability to bounce back and overcome adversity is up there too.
The Spun: What’s something you’re working on during this process?
AP: I would say my strength. I’m trying to obviously get strong before I’m playing at the pro level. I’m also trying to be fluid in and out of my breaks. Also, I want to get better at recognizing formations.
The Spun: Have you thought about any matchups you may come across in the NFL?
AP: I haven’t thought about that too much, but I am definitely excited to see myself lined up against receivers like D.K. Metcalf and Odell Beckham Jr. at the next level.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 31, 2020
The Spun: Has it hit you yet that you’re going to be an NFL player very soon?
AP: I’ve been trying to go about it one day at a time, but it definitely has hit me. The fact that I’m less than a month away from potentially being on an NFL team, I can’t tell you what that means to me. It would mean the world. Like a lot of young kids, it’s been my dream to make the NFL. I keep going through scenarios in my head and trying to figure out how I’ll feel when my name gets called. It’s just a blessing.
The Spun: What’s been the driving force for your career?
AP: Well, first of all, I love football. I don’t know what I’d do without football. It’s allowed me to overcome pain and adversity, on and off the field. So just that passion for the game has kept me going.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Antonio Phillips?
AP: A guy who is going to give everything he has to the organization, on and off the field. Whoever is willing to take a chance on me is going to get my all.
Head down, grindin 💯 pic.twitter.com/lg6tZauyRD
— Antonio Phillips (@A_phillips_21) February 12, 2021
Phillips did not participate at his pro day because he underwent a microdiscectomy. He’s been given a six-week recovery time and should be ready for rookie camp.
Most draft projections have Phillips coming off the board in the fifth round. We’ll find out later this month where he’ll resume his football career.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.
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