April is officially here, and for NFL fans far and wide, that brings joy. Why? Well, in only a few short weeks, all 32 teams will have the opportunity to lock down some of the best collegiate athletes in the annual NFL Draft.
The event tends to bring an equal amount of praise and pain for fans each year, and the same could be said for the players. As the young talents look to cement themselves in a rewarding yet strenuous career, nothing remains certain until they walk up on that stage. Until then, they are obliged to prove their worth in events like the combine, pro days and team workouts.
The journey is different for each and every player, yet I’m sure all could attest to the hard-work and dedication it takes to get to this point.
That may certainly be the case for Cam Phillips, a four-year wide receiver out of Virginia Tech. Despite making his mark by becoming the school’s All-Time leader in yards and receptions this past year, the 6ft 199lb wideout continues to face various levels of adversity as he prepares for the draft.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Phillips and discuss his journey as well as his expectations leading up to the big day. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How have you spent the past few weeks/months preparing for the NFL Draft?
Cam: The last couple of weeks I actually came back home to Maryland to train and workout. I actually have another sort of workout happening on April 10th since I’m coming off of surgery and what not. On my Pro Day I wasn’t really 100%, so this gives teams another chance to see my real numbers when I’m back up and fully healthy. But, for the most part, it’s been a lot of rehab. Coming off of surgery I was down in south Florida training, but afterwards I got to workout at the Colts’ facility, which was a cool experience. I was seeing pro guys come in everyday and watching their training routines. I really enjoyed that.
Q: With the draft only a few short weeks away, what’s in store for you in these final moments?
Cam: Really, April 10th is everything for me right now. I get a chance to show some teams how I am when I’m healthy. Last season I wasn’t healthy at all dealing with sports hernia. I actually needed surgery on both sides but I got through that. So April 10th will really let me know how everything will go up until the draft and after the draft. But I’m excited about it. It’s another opportunity and I’ve been working really hard to get back. I think everything will go really well for me.
Q: You cemented your collegiate career as Virginia Tech’s All-Time leader in yards and receptions. Does this type of accomplishment give you a chip on your shoulder in terms of finding success at the NFL level?
Cam: I believe so. After being there for four years I figured there was no true reason why I shouldn’t have the receiving record in yards and receptions. It just shows I can be very productive especially coming in as true freshman and starting. I was productive each year with my last two years being the most productive under a coaching change too, so I have the ability to adapt. Those are probably my strong points not only for myself, but when I’m talking to teams. I’m just letting them know I can do all of those things.
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Cam Phillips Career Stats:
Q: It seemed like you and WR Isaiah Ford (now with the Dolphins) had a positive relationship during your time together at VT. What did you learn from him before ultimately passing him in the record books for receptions and yards?
Cam: Yeah, we’re really close and we keep in touch to this day. [Back then] It was more like from a competitive standpoint, you know? Each practice we would try and out-do each other and see who could watch the most film or make the most plays. But that was just amongst us. It helped to have that other talent in receiver there though. He helped push me to continue my competitive drive. I am really blessed for my time at Virginia Tech and for that relationship we had.
Q: You only seemed to progress year after year during your time at Virginia Tech. Early on you were more restricted to the slot before branching out more in your senior year to the outside. How do you see this type of versatility translating to the NFL?
Cam: I do see it translating to the NFL only because I pride myself on being an intelligent football player and my understanding of all three of four receiver spots. I think it will be much of the same at the next level. From the design of the playbooks I’ll be able to understand everything there is for me to put the best foot forward and to try to make myself available to the coaches so they can use me.
Q: If you had to compare yourself to one NFL WR, who would it be and why?
Cam: [Laughs] I don’t know. I really like Stefon Diggs because of the things he can do with the ball in his hand and him being from Maryland, like myself. I actually had the chance to play against him. But if I had a favorite it’d be Antonio Brown because of the consistency he displays and how he’s always coming up big for his team. That’s always something I’m striving to do.
Phillips will come into the draft as a versatile, well-rounded and achieved receiver. His accomplishments from his time at Virginia Tech extend far and wide and should allow him to secure a spot on an NFL roster in 2018.
Most recently, Phillips missed the Camping World Bowl due to his recent sports hernia surgery. However, as one of the more underrated wide receivers in college football, Phillips is considered by scouts to have good hands, mental toughness, solid route running ability, and the athletic ability to create yards after the catch.
While he may be overlooked, underrated or undiscovered by many, whichever team Phillips lands with is sure to get a fierce competitor in all aspects of the game.