Oklahoma Game Will Be Special For Family Of BYU WR JoJo Phillips
Nov 14, 2023, 11:19 AM
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Freshman wide receiver JoJo Phillips is finding his role in the BYU football program.
It’s a big deal for freshmen to earn playing time in a Power Five program. Those snaps take on greater significance when taking on a nationally-ranked blueblood like No. 14 Oklahoma, as BYU will do this Saturday.
Phillips, who BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said is one of the most talented players in the BYU program, doesn’t view Saturday as a big stage because of the opponent. It’s because of who will be in the stands cheering him on from inside LaVell Edwards Stadium.
JoJo Phillips’ father will be in the stands for the first time since suffering a stroke
That’s JoJo’s father, Robert Phillips, a.k.a. “Big Rob.”
The elder Phillips will see his son in person competing as a D1 athlete for the first time.
Last spring, while JoJo was finishing his senior year as a two-sport athlete at Sierra Canyon High School in Lancaster, California. Typically, an exciting time in a young man’s life was suddenly met with the worst fear anyone could think of—the possibility of losing a loved one.
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) November 12, 2023
That’s because on March 7, “Big Rob” suffered a stroke during a Sierra Canyon High basketball game. It was a stroke that left the Phillips family unsure if they would see their father and husband again.
“He had a stroke in his brainstem. It was just bleeding there,” JoJo Phillips said to KSL Sports about what happened to his father in March. “Then the doctors are pretty much telling us he was going to be a vegetable and never be like anything again.”
Thanks to that team of doctors who worked quickly on Big Rob, he made it through the night. It’s been a challenging road to recovery, but now “Big Rob,” with his wife, Tina, are preparing to see their son against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners.
“He’s great [now], and he pulled through and came through because of the power of God. He’s a praying man,” JoJo Phillips said.
Phillips has appreciated the support from his BYU football family
Immediately after Big Rob’s stroke, the BYU football sent a “get well” package with a note to Rob that included a handwritten message of support from Kalani Sitake and the rest of JoJo’s new football family.
A GoFundMe page was created by someone close to the Phillips family to assist them with medical costs–nearly $30,000 was raised. Some of those donations came from BYU fans.
“I really appreciate all the fans who donated to it,” Phillips said. “Just knowing that he has that love, and we have that love, means a lot.”
Still, the road to recovery continues with each passing day. Big Rob returned home in August and wanted to show up to BYU’s home opener against Sam Houston, but it was too quick of a turnaround after suffering the stroke.
“He’s done really good. I’m proud to see the progress he’s made ever since I left home and came out here. He’s back home now and he’s been home for about two months. And he’s progressing every day, getting stronger.”
It’s worked out now as he gets to watch his son against a college football blueblood.
BYU vs. No. 14 Oklahoma
Date: Saturday, November 18, 2023
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
Kickoff: 10 a.m.
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.
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