Phillips, State seek first win since final game of 2009 season
Posted By: HBCU Connect Sports on September 18, 2011 |
UpdatedSep 8, 2011 6:23 PM ET
As the West Virginia State football team prepares to face the team who faced Norfolk State - which is visiting WVU - quarterback Ricky Phillips is fulfilling a long, yet sought-after college football dream.
The former Spring Valley and Huntington high school standout will try to guide the Yellow Jackets (0-1) to their first victory since Nov. 7, 2009, when they face Virginia State (0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lakin Field.
The Spartans are coming off a 37-3 loss to Norfolk State, which plays at Mountaineer Field on Saturday.
"I never really thought about that," said Phillips, a former WVU player.
The 23-year-old Phillips will start his ninth game as the primary quarterback for the Yellow Jackets, who haven't even won a non-conference game in more than two years - the last one was a 6-0 season-opening victory against Central State on Aug. 29, 2009.
While Phillips is seeking his first victory as the team's starter, he simply is happy to have the chance to continue toward the conclusion of an up-and-down high school and college career.
Phillips was the starting quarterback at Spring Valley as a junior before Don Money was hired to replace current Marshall assistant Phil Ratliff as head coach.
He opted to "listen to outside influences" and transfer to Huntington - something he said he considers, to this day, to be a mistake.
During his senior season, the Highlanders - under Coach Richard Williams - won their first six games with Phillips at QB, but faltered down the stretch before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
"I would have stayed (at SV) if I could do it over again," Phillips said.
He toiled mostly as a safety for WVU, but after "not doing everything I was supposed to do" and "being irresponsible," Phillips transferred to Kentucky Christian in 2008 as the first starting quarterback in the program's history.
In just his second college start at QB, Phillips completed 23-of-38 passes for 278 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That week's NAIA Division I National Player of the Week also ran for 111 yards on 15 carries.
Phillips was well on his way to a successful college career in Grayson, Ky., completing 32-of-54 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns the following week.
However, an injury limited his play in week four and legal problems in Huntington led to a suspension at Kentucky Christian. Although charges of malicious wounding were dropped, Phillips was out of football for a year and a half, which included a season at WVSU following his transfer.
In 10 games with the Yellow Jackets, Phillips has completed 185-of-309 passes for 2,103 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In 14 career college games, he is 249-of-420 for 2,952 yards with 20 TDs and 14 picks.
This season could be most productive yet. He has been surrounded by quality talent - junior college transfer Ervin Kent had four receptions for 147 yards and TD receptions of 74 and 48 yards and State veteran WR Landon Johnson had eight catches for 98 yards.
"Ervin has a lot of speed, and Landon has sure hands," Phillips said. "I know if we need 11 yards, Landon will catch the ball."
The biggest problem could be figuring out a way to stop teams.
The Yellow Jackets dropped a 64-27 decision at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend.
"Your defense should be able to hold an opponent to 21 points," State Coach Earl Monroe said.
The offense had 77 plays for 499 yards - an average of 6.5 yards per play. Johnson C. Smith averaged 9.5 (66 plays, 630 yards).
For Phillips' part, he is doing his job, despite an 0-14 in game he has played.
That doesn't deter the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, who aspires to keep playing football.
"I think it's all worth it," Phillips said. "I want to keep playing as long as I can.
"Everybody's dream is the NFL. Of course, I'll shoot for the stars, and if I land on the moon, I won't be so disappointed."
DAILY MAIL FILE PHOTO
West Virginia State University quarterback Ricky Phillips leads the Yellow Jackets into their game against Virginia State on Saturday.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.
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