Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Georgia speedster has Razorbacks among top 5
Arkansas assistant coach Jimmy Smith speaks Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, alongside running back Raheim Sanders during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.
The University of Arkansas is one of the top schools for speedy ESPN 4-star junior running back Dwight Phillips Jr., who was bombarded by college coaches early Thursday morning.
Sept. 1 was the first day college coaches could make direct contact with junior prospects via social media and text messages. Phillips estimates 40 coaches reached out to him from midnight to 12:45 Thursday morning,
“It was going like left and right like, every second,” Phillips said of the rapid fire pace.
Phillips, 5-11, 180 pounds, of Mabelton (Ga.) Pebblebrook, has more than 30 scholarship offers, including ones from Arkansas, Georgia, Florida State, Oregon. Texas A&M, Michigan State, South Carolina, Missouri, Auburn, Louisville and others.
Razorbacks running backs coach Jimmy Smith made contact with him Thursday morning.
“I have a lot of interest,” Phillips said. “They’re in my top five. I like Arkansas.”
He also said Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Michigan State and South Carolina make up his top five.
Phillips opened eyes as a sophomore by gaining 774 yards on only 62 carries for a 12.5 average per carry while scoring 7 touchdowns. He also had 9 catches for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns.
ESPN also rates Phillips the No. 12 athlete and No. 113 overall prospect in the nation for the 2024 class.
He and Smith have spoken on the phone prior to Thursday and he said Smith talked up what he could do for the Hogs.
“Like what I can bring to their program and what he can do for me to get me to the next level,” Phillips said.
His father, Dwight Phillips, was one of the more dominant track and field performers in the early 2000s. He won a gold medal in the long jump at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and was ranked No. 1 in the world five times while having a personal best jump of 28 feet, 81/4 inches.
He was also an outstanding sprinter with a best time of 10.06 seconds in the 100 meters.
Taking after his father, Phillips used his speed to win the Georgia 7A 100 state title by recording 10.43 seconds in May.
Pebblebrook Coach Leroy Hood signed with Arkansas in 2000 out of McGehee after helping the Owls win back-to-back state championships in 1998-1999. He played one season for the Razorbacks before transferring to Arkansas Tech for the 2001 season.
“You can’t coach speed,” Hood said of the younger Phillips. “He’s dynamic, he can do it all. He can play any position on the offensive side of the ball outside of quarterback. We kind of use him like a Percy Harvin. We can put him in the slot but the biggest thing I’ve seen from him this year in between the tackles, he’s much better.”
Phillips startled the Georgia coaches by recording an electronic time of 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a Bulldog camp this summer.
“When I ran it the first time, I had to redo it because they thought they had it wrong on the laser,” Phillips said. “When I ran it again, they just looked at me and they were like, ‘You’re fast.’ ”
Hood said Phillips’ performance got him the offer from the Bulldogs.
“They were on him, but they wanted to see (him),” Hood said. “At the camp, he was running by everybody. He had a great camp.”
Phillips said he likes the fact Arkansas led the nation in rushing among Power Five schools last season.
“It means a lot to me because I’m playing running back, so I’m trying to get to the next level,” he said.
A trip to Fayetteville is on his mind.
“Soon, but I don’t know when,” Phillips said.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.