SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Ever since he stepped on campus three years ago, Clark Phillips III was destined to be an NFL player.
Afterall, he was the highest rated recruit Utah had ever signed, and next month after leaving school a year early, Phillips will hear his name called in the NFL Draft.
Phillips will be the seventh Utah defensive back taken in the last six years, and he may end up be the best of them all. Although he still considers Chicago Bears defensive back Jaylon Johnson a mentor.
“Yeah, most definitely,” Phillips said at the NFL Combine. “We talked occasionally in the off-season. He came down to Utah last year before his season. We watched a little bit of film with Coach Shah, and we studied a little bit. I got to show him some of the things I’ve watched about his film. He’s somebody who is almost a mentor for me when I went to Utah. He’s somebody I really looked up to because I wanted to do the plan that he did, three years and out. Here I am today.”
Phillips was a shutdown corner at Utah. Although quarterbacks rarely threw he way, Phillips was still tied for third in the nation last season with six interceptions. Had a total of nine interceptions, four returned for touchdowns, in his three seasons at Utah, and he thinks his game will translate to the NFL.
“I think some of my strengths were showed this year, my ball skills and things of that nature,” said Phillips, who had nine total interceptions in three seasons with the Utes. “At Utah, we played a lot of man and sent a lot of pressure, which I was grateful for. I think I’m just ferocious and nasty. At Utah, we had a culture and our acronym is RSNB — relentless, smart, nasty ballhawks. That’s what I think that I am as a football player. I think that’s what stands out about me, and I think that’s what separates me from the rest of the guys.”
Phillips is being projected to be a second or third round pick. He is a shorter cornerback at 5-feet-10, but his talent and confidence could make him a starter right away.
“Every single week I go out there, I think I’m the best guy on the field consistently,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m going against a guy that’s 6-7, or a guys that’s 5-9 like my height. I’m going to just line up and play.”
Since 2017, six other Utah defensive backs have been drafted, including Marcus Williams (Saints), Brian Allen (Steelers), Marquise Blair (Seahawks), Jaylon Johnson (Bears), Julian Blackmon (Colts) and Terrell Burgess (Rams).