Surprised by the success of University of Arizona wide receiver Nate Phillips?
“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to play college football. Arizona gave me the chance and I’ve taken it and ran with it…I love playing in this system and for these coaches.”
The true freshman from Basha High in Chandler has been turning heads since fall camp. Head coach Rich Rodriguez knew the 5’7 Phillips would be a key contributor, even early in his career with the Wildcats.
“He’s a quick learner,” Rodriguez said back in early August.
If there’s one thing RichRod knows it’s skill players and he found a good one in Phillips who leads the ‘Cats in receiving yards (268) and touchdown receptions (three) through seven games. He was able to pick up UofA’s offense quickly and has made himself at home in Tucson.
“Most of the transition was going from one spread offense to another spread offense,” Phillips told Sports360AZ.com in a phone interview earlier this week. “That definitely made the transition much easier…I’m grateful and thankful for how everything’s worked out so far.”
Starting quarterback B.J. Denker knew Phillips had the skill-set to add another dimension to UofA’s spread attack.
“He runs great routes,” Denker said back in pre-season camp. “[He’s] really fast, has great hands.”
Phillips sharpened his route-running as the season has progressed which has allowed him to get better separation against defenders, even one’s faster and more experienced.
A Division-I first-team all-state selection as a senior he also had offers from North Dakota, NAU and Air Force before signing with UofA. He says he couldn’t have picked a better program.
“It’s a dream come true,” he explained to Sports360AZ.com. “Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to play college football. Arizona gave me the chance and I’ve taken it and ran with it…I love playing in this system and for these coaches.”
The Wildcats (5-2, 2-2) travel to the Bay Area to take on Cal (1-7, 0-5) Saturday afternoon at 12:30. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Network.