No. 4 2020 cornerback Clark Phillips committed to Ohio State understanding the program's history of putting cornerbacks into the NFL and with the hopes to see the field early.
While Phillips has plenty of athleticism, he isn’t the long, 6-foot-plus cornerback that teams are attracted to more and more. But the claim that he believes he can see the field early wasn’t impulsive wishful thinking. Phillips has had conversations with secondary coach Jeff Hafley about the possibility.
“The opportunity to great to pass up,” Phillips told Eleven Warriors about committing to Ohio State. “The staff, legacy, history of developing guys at my position and opportunity to have an early impact.”
The La Habra cornerback runs a 4.54 40-yard dash and has a 35-inch vertical. While those numbers are legitimately solid for a high school prospect, his future teammate, Lejond Cavazos – 4.40 seconds, 44.5 inches – brings what could be the most athleticism in the country to Ohio State’s 2020 cornerback position.
Phillips, however, adds a lot of the intangibles to his athletic skillset. For a ball-hawk cornerback, he has a low center of gravity and won’t be pushed around by receivers. The No. 4 cornerback also has strong fundamentals to tackle in the open field, which is crucial for a Big Ten cornerback.
He’s already developed quite a reputation for himself, after intercepting seven passes and deflecting 15 passes in eight games as a sophomore in 2017. Teams have gotten smart and thrown to the other side of the field, so in 2018, Phillips recorded one interception and 10 pass deflections. That isolation forced La Habra to put Phillips at receiver on offense, and while there, he caught 54 passes for 1,210 yards and 19 touchdowns and showed strong hands.
With that resume and skillset in mind, Phillips is the type of cornerback that Hafley likes to coach. Tough and aggressive – the type of cornerback that can press at the line – strong enough to be physical with receivers and make the contended catches, and fast enough to maximize speed for a strong cornerback.
It’s not out of the question for Phillips to pick up some playing time as a freshman, when Damon Arnette has graduated and Jeffrey Okudah has potentially entered the NFL Draft, and certainly not as a sophomore either.
“I just have to work extremely hard and be ready to go,” Phillips said. “Really excited to be a Buckeye and learn from Coach Haf.”