Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007.
Phillips didn't anticipate SPARQ rating
ARLINGTON, Texas Recording the nation’s highest SPARQ rating of 141.36 on Saturday, wasn't something North Little Rock safety Tyler Phillips expected.
“I didn’t expect it to be anything close to a 141,” said Phillips, who registered the rating at the Nike Football SPARQ Combine at Arlington, Texas. “I’m just thankful and super surprised.”
The previous best was 138.84 recorded by receiver Kirk Merritt of Destrehan, La. SPARQ ratings are used as a standardized measure of athletic ability and take into account an athlete’s speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.
Phillips, 6-2, 206 pounds, ran an electronically time of 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.00 in the pro shuttle, recorded a 40.7-inch vertical leap and tossed the power ball 42 feet. Video highlights CLICK HERE
Last year, he recorded a 104.43 when he was timed at 4.84 in the 40 yard dash and had a 36.5 vertical. He also had a 4.55 pro-shuttle time and a 43 foot power ball toss.
The big jump in SPARQ rating happened through dedication.
“It just proves hard work pays off,” Phillips said. “I’ve really worked hard between now and then. Now I’m focusing on learning safety and having those numbers up on the field. I really want to prove that I’m an elite football player and not just a good athlete.”
He recorded 38 unassisted tackles, 48 assisted tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 2 recovered fumbles at outside linebacker as a junior.
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. was one of three coaches who congratulated Phillips on his combine performance.
Phillips, who visited Ohio State and Missouri this spring, is also drawing interest from Arkansas, Memphis, Army, Arkansas State, Stanford, La-Monroe and several Ivy league schools.
“Last year, I played outside linebacker, but I’m really liking safety and think I’m going to do well,” Phillips said.
Phillips will bring a physical presence to the free safety position.
“I’m definitely going to help stop the run too,” he said. “I was an outside linebacker last year.”
Arkansas, Memphis, Tulsa, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth and several others are schools he plans to camp at during the summer.