Who Is Cy Phillips
There is always a player that seemingly comes out of nowhere in each recruiting season.
Iowa fans had no idea who Bob Sanders was when he came to Iowa from Erie, PA two years ago. People were performing Internet searches and asking each other about this somewhat obscure prep player.
Iowa fans now see that there was more to Bob Sanders than just press clippings, or lack thereof.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said something to me last February after the 2001 class was announced that was somewhat profound. “We don’t recruit kids just because they are 6-feet-4 and fit into some ‘mold’. We recruit football players. I have seen a lot of 6-foot-4 players get coaches fired.”
Sanders was recently named first team all-Big Ten as a sophomore.
Iowa is hoping that it found another gem in 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback Cy Phillips from Hoxie, Arkansas. On the map, Hoxie is about 25 miles northwest of Jonesboro, home of Arkansas State University. But on the Division 1 college football map, it is a long way from anywhere, which may have some Iowa fans asking the question: Who is Cy Phillips?
"I tell you what, Iowa just got a diamond in the rough,” said Tom Sears, in his third year as head coach at Hoxie High School. “Our program is a lot like Iowa’s in that we hit rock bottom three years ago and are rebuilding. If Cy had played at a big-time high school, I think everyone would know who this kid is and a lot of people would want him.”
Sears was a quarterback for Arkansas State back in the early 1990’s and has provided a great environment for Phillips to learn the nuances of the game.
”Cy has been our starter since I took the job, so I have had spent a lot of time grooming him to be a good quarterback,” Sears said. “I think Iowa saw some great things on tape from Cy, some things that a lot of high school quarterbacks have not refined.”
”Cy has an excellent, high release point and holds the ball high in his drops. He has outstanding footwork and can make all of the throws. He has unlimited arm strength.”
Phillips has run a few different offenses while at Hoxie, giving him exposure to more schemes but also instilling some things into his psyche that are not easily learned in college if you have never had to perform them at the high school level.
”In my first year here (Cy’s sophomore season), we ran the I-formation.” Sears said. “Then midway through his junior year, we mixed the I with some spread formations. This year, we ran the option out of the spread formation, and Cy did a great job. He is not afraid to run with the ball and those are instincts that will serve him well at Iowa.”
”Cy is also very good at making quick reads. Once he drops back, he has been taught to go through all of his reads in a short time frame. Once he does that, he has learned to tuck the ball under his arm and run up field.”
Hoxie was 5-5 in Phillips’ first two seasons but they improved to 8-3 this past fall. Phillips had 191 career rushing attempts for 24 touchdowns and 1,450 yards, with the bulk of those yards coming this year once the team went to the option. He was 224 of 424 for 2,777 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air in his career, including more than 1,000 yards this season. Hoxie had a full back that gained nearly 1,000 yards this season as well.
”I really think the dual threat aspects that Cy brings to the table will make him a very good quarterback at the college level,” Sears said. “Iowa recruited him as a quarterback and that was important for Cy. Iowa never mentioned any other position at all.”
Coach Ferentz made the trip to Hoxie to visit with Sears and Phillips, and coach Ron Aiken was a frequent visitor.
Mississippi State was making a strong push for Phillips, but ended up being the bridesmaid to Iowa for a second straight quarterback recruit. JUCO Nathan Chandler selected Iowa over Mississippi State last week. Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa were some of the other schools heavily involved with Phillips.
Phillips is a great student and carries a 3.50gpa and is a member of the student council. Sears believes Phillips’ intellect has helped him make quick reads and feels strongly about his star player’s future at Iowa.
”I just see this kid as a gem, someone that will make a lot of schools wish they would have recruited him.” Sears said. “I think that Iowa wanted a kid that could bring both the strong arm and quick read aspects of a pocket passer with a player that is not afraid to run the ball and take a hit. They got a good one with Cy.”
"I think that the Iowa coaches will be overly pleased with Cy and they will look back on his recruitment as a stroke of good evaluatoin and good fortune."