FAITH, FAMILY & FOOTBALL

How Clark Phillips III Transitioned From RB To CB

Sep 17, 2021, 5:19 PM
Clark Phillips III and Clark Phillips Sr....
(Photo courtesy of Clark Phillips III)
(Photo courtesy of Clark Phillips III)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Before Clark Phillips III became the highest-rated recruit in Utah football history, he had to make the transition from a position that he loved growing up.

When Clark Phillips started playing football in little league, he was a running back and a really good one at that. He was always quick and strong with great upper body strength even in the early years of his life, similar to what you see on the football field with the Utes.

The Utah CB was joined by father, Clark Phillips Sr. on the Faith, Family and Football podcast. They talked about making the decision to move from running back to cornerback and why the defensive secondary was the place to transition.

You can listen to the full episode, below.

Clark Phillips III Moving From RB To CB

In any sport, most kids want to play the “important position” like quarterback, running back or wide receiver. Giving up running back wasn’t easy for Phillips III but in the end it made sense because he bought into the position.

“I can’t take all the credit frankly, Clark had a lot of talent and got moved around, did a lot of different things,” said Phillips Sr. “Even though he was known in the youth programs that he was in for kind of being that tailback, the explosive guy, tough, physical, some of the same attributes that you see at corner. But as he got to the higher levels of youth football, 11, 12, 13 years-old and guys start throwing the ball more. He had a youth coach that I would talk to quite a bit and he thought because of the amazing feet he had at tailback, he’d be good at DB. I bought into it completely and just wanted to support him in whatever he wanted to do. It was really good right off the bat. He would always go to camps and play with older kids and he excelled. A little bit undersized but incredibly quick, could get back in position because of some of the natural gifts but then he had a wheel much different than running back. DB is so technical, you can play an entire rep right and do one thing right and it’s a touchdown or you can win 70 reps on a night and lose one rep and that’s all people were talking about.

“He was off and running because he’s super competitive, we would laugh at his youth games, because we would have to stop him from getting in one-on-one battles when he played defensive end because if a guy brought the physical challenge and made it about him and that guy he was then the rest of the game going to want to destroy him whether the assignment was there or not,” added Phillips Sr. “We just tried to support him. I didn’t play corner, we have athletes in the family but no one played DB. So really my focus was getting him around incredible coaches and trainers and the rest was him just getting around good people that could teach him technique and those things and he ran with it.”

Phillips III talked about making the move from the offensive backfield to the defensive secondary.

“It was weird,” stated Phillips III. “So, not a lot of people know, my dad played running back as a senior in high school. So it was kind of instilled in me from a young age at running back to not ever let a corner tackle you. My dad, he would get pissed off. He would get hot and when cornerbacks would think that they’re about to tackle me I was always taught to ‘stiff arm the little corners, corners don’t want to tackle anyway.’ So getting moved to play corner, my whole mindset had to change. I don’t let running backs run me over, it was almost like tricking myself, playing reverse psychology. It’s like I’m bringing the physicality. Running backs aren’t worried about the corners, they’re worried about the big guys and if it’s me or Devin Lloyd, I guarantee you they’re gonna choose to try to run at me and so my goal is when I’m at corner, ‘hey, let me try to impose some fear on these guys and let me be the meanest guy, the meanest corner they ever see.'”

How CPIII Gained His Love For Football

Phillips was basically born around the game of football. His father played running back in high school and the family would attend Long Beach Poly games to watch his uncle play.

“I think before we say love of football, I think Clark loves competition,” Phillips Sr. said. “He played soccer and basketball like many kids, they get to this level and play multiple sports. But what we noticed as a family even though we’re a football family, he’s got a lot of relatives that played. He’s got an uncle that he’s looked up to that played at one of the storied programs in Long Beach Poly and then played college ball. So he was going to those games at two years old, shoot even younger than that maybe like 18 months. Before that, what we noticed about Clark was just before he fell in love with football, he fell in love with competition.

The love of football even leaked onto the soccer field when Phillips was three years-old.

“His teammates that hear this is probably gonna laugh because he competes at everything,” Phillips Sr. added. “Like on the soccer field, funny story, his very first soccer game he tackled the first person he saw. He took an angle and it kills me to this day when we laugh as a family because I didn’t have the camcorder there. It was a classic, but he took an angle like a safety and lit the kid up. He didn’t know what was going on, he’s three years-old, playing hard court YMCA soccer at this stage. He looks over and he starts crying because everyone in the stands is laughing. He didn’t know what he did just all he’s been doing is going to football games. So he sees a ball and people are running fast, he took an angle and laid the kid out.”

Listen to the full episode as Clark Phillips III and Clark Phillips Sr. recap the loss to BYU, look ahead to San Diego State, growing up around the game of football and much more.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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