March 3, 2014

Northwest Whitfield WR Phillips shines at camp

Northwest Whitfield’s Clay Phillips was surprised how well he did this past weekend while being compared side-by-side to some of the state’s best high school football players.

The junior said it’s motivation to continue working through the prospect-camp maze and hopefully find a next-level opportunity as he heads into his senior season.

Phillips was named one of the top five wide receivers Saturday at the VTO Sports Elite 100 Atlanta underclassmen football camp at Lovejoy High School. He was one of six Bruins who attended the Rivals.com-sponsored event. The other Northwest players were quarterback Caleb Shiflett, cornerback Jamon Horne and defensive end/linebacker Dexter Stamper, all juniors, and sophomore linebackers Cyrus Addison and Austin Morrison.

Northwest coach Josh Robinson attended and watched the camp.

This was the first camp this spring for Phillips, who played wide receiver and safety for the Bruins in their 2013 run to the Class 4A state playoffs.

“I didn’t really expect myself to compete the way I did,” said Phillips, a 6-foot, 1-inch target weighing 199 pounds. “I texted coach Robinson right after that this gives me more confidence to be motivated and put more time in.

“It also allows me to see where I need to improve.”

Phillips said he set a goal for this offseason to find a way on the college scouting radar at prospect camps.

“You can go to all of them but stand in the back of the line and not do anything,” he said. “I set goals, and the ultimate goal is to get a scholarship. ... There weren’t any college scouts there. You just work your way through the camp system.”

VTO Sports is a national company that hosts high school football camps and combines. The organization partners with Rivals.com for regional underclassmen camps throughout the country, with a select few invited to national camps this summer. With his success this weekend, Phillips could be invited to a national VTO Elite camp this summer, Robinson said.

“He did a really good job,” Robinson said. “All my players did really well. I found more and more that where we’re (located), we need to work hard to get down to these camps and get our kids more exposure.”

Robinson said there were 182 players total and around 40 to 50 wide receivers competing in drills. Attendees included some already with Division I offers, and Phillips said out of the receivers, the VTO Elite staff picked 11 to compete in one-on-one drills against the top 11 defensive backs. From that competition, the top five receivers were selected.

Phillips said there wasn’t a specific scoring model for the camp, but rather emphasis was on the eye test. From his own eye test, he noticed a lot of skilled high school athletes in attendance.

“There were a lot of talented players,” Phillips said. “There was a freshman, a 2017 recruit, with offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech. He is huge. I thought he was in my grade.

“When it all started, they said, ‘If you have a Division I offer, stand up.’ About five or six kids stood up.”

Horne and Stamper each made The Daily Citizen’s 2013 All-Area Football team, while Addison and Shiflett were honorable mentions.

Addison was one of five players from the 2016 class mentioned on the VTO Elite website as part of a “what to watch for” article before the camp started. He’ll be invited to a Rivals.com camp March 29 at the Marist School in Atlanta, Robinson said.

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