Clark Phillips III Chose Utah Over Ohio State Because Of Utes’ Coaching Staff Stability

Jan 6, 2020, 3:14 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2020, 9:14 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The highest rated recruit in Utah football history is on campus and enrolled early, starting his journey with the Utes.

It was a whirlwind of a process that happened just before National Signing Day that had him switch from his original commitment to Ohio State to the University of Utah.

The four-star prospect from La Habra, California sat down with KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen to discuss his decision to sign with Utah and what goals and expectations he has for the future of Utah football.

Why He Chose Utah

A lot went into his decision to not go to Ohio State and switch to the Utes.

“Honestly, I can speak for a long time about the things throughout the process that I was looking for and the things that changed,” Phillips mentioned. “It was a two week span where I had a change of heart and had many conversations with my family and a lot of prayer that led me and allowed me to choose Utah over Ohio State.”

His decision to join Utah happened just days before signing day after a conversation with head coach Kyle Whittingham.

“A couple of days before signing day I was talking to coach (Kyle) Whittingham and a couple of things happened with the other University that I was committed to that allowed me to see that door open for Utah and really just made me feel really comfortable with the staff and realize that the guys at Utah and the staff and everything that is in place and felt really comfortable with the stability. The players and the opportunity that’s at hand,” said Phillips.

Whittingham just finished his 15th season as the head coach of the Utes and is the longest tenured coach in the Pac-12 and one of the longest in the entire country. The stability with the coaching staff was a big part of why Phillips was comfortable with his decision to sign with the Utes.

“The coaches are super stable and the stability is definitely appealing for my family,” Phillips mentioned. “For me, I love the players and love the guys and they are really genuine dudes, even away from the football piece I feel like those guys are guys that I want to spend the next three to four years with.”

Phillips is a family man, who enjoys spending time with his immediate family, which is something that fits perfectly with the culture that Whittingham and his staff have built on the hill.

“Super important,” Phillips declared. “They are my backbone. Those people have definitely gotten me through a lot. Just the guidance and the counseling that they have been able to provide throughout this process has been great.”

Positive Mindset & Handling Attention

Phillips has a lot of attention surrounding him as the highest prospect to ever sign with the Utes. He is the 33rd highest rated recruit in the country, the No. 4 cornerback in the nation and the No. 5 ranked prospect in the state of California. But, Phillips knows how to handle that attention and focus on the task at hand.

“The attention comes with a lot of peoples’ processes and for me it came really early being recruited during my sophomore year,” Phillips stated. “I really just wanted to find the best place for me. It’s not about the publicity or fame or anything like that. It’s been about deciding where I wanted to spend the next three to four years, which is the goal to graduate in two and a half years like Jaylon Johnson, who is a great Ute and going to the NFL. For me, it’s been about just trying to find the best place for me and I found a home here in Utah.”

Utah lost their second straight game on New Year’s Eve when they fell to the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl, 38-10. The next day after the loss, Phillips tweeted out a positive message to Utah fans.

“When you have a great (recruiting) class like this coming in with myself and I feel like a lot of great guys that are coming in and when you have a great set of collective players and the staff, you know there is always hope and I feel like that loss doesn’t define Utah football,” Phillips said. ” The guys are really great and I feel like that’s just a stepping stone towards our future and that the loss is going to help us and it is going to thrust us into victories next year.”

The potential for Phillips is very high and should compete for a starting job right away with the departure of all five starters in the secondary. Every player has role models or guys that they model their game after.

“I study a lot of guys,” Phillips said. “But I really model my game after Patrick Peterson. He is a great player and I love the Cardinals. I love Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey.”

Phillips is expected to replace Jaylon Johnson, who has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft. The path for Phillips could be similar to Johnson’s.

“It’s really cool to see someone that has done it before and it definitely adds a little bit of warmth for my mom and for them in the situation to see that is has been done before and allow for me to do it as well,” Phillips said.

Before his career gets started at Utah, he has one simple goal in mind that he wants to accomplish before his college career is over.

“Championships,” Phillips declared.

Phillips joined the Crimson Corner Podcast and KSL Unrivlaed for a more in-depth conversation about his goals, the opportunity at hand with the Utes and more.

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