Nov. 22, 2000
By Krisden Wunsch
Green Wave linebacker Jerry Phillips will leave his mark on Tulane football after he completes the final game of his collegiate career against Memphis. Phillips has had a successful four seasons with the Wave, placing his name among the top-10 in a handful of defensive categories. In the minds of the coaches and players Phillips is the "heart and soul" of the Green Wave defense.
"Fish", as Phillips is known by his teammates, coaches and friends, has the opportunity to be ranked in the top-10 all-time at Tulane in three defensive categories. He already holds the 10 spot in Total Tackles with 334 and is 9th in Assisted Tackles with 139. Phillips needs just two tackles to move into the top-10 in Solo Tackles. Currently he stands in 11th with 195. This season he leads the team in tackles with 94 and is looking for his 2nd 100-tackle season of his career.
"At the beginning of the season, the coaches asked us to set goals," said Phillips. "I was going through some old media guides and saw that I was close to getting my name in there, so I figured that I would go for it. Sitting out last week against Navy (due to a strained quad) hurt me a little but I plan to work on these goals during the Memphis game."
With a win on Saturday, Phillips could be a member of the first senior class since 1982 to have three out of four winning seasons. Because of Phillips experience and success on the field he is looked upon as a principle part of the Green Wave defense.
"I have become a leader on the team because of my experience and I accept this role," said Phillips. He adds chuckling "As an inside linebacker I'm the one that calls the plays so the other guys have to listen to me or they won't know what to do."
Phillips hasn't always been the big fish on the Tulane football team, his first season with the Wave he was red shirted but had the help of two great friends to get him through the sometimes difficult transition from high school to college.
When Phillips arrived on the Tulane campus in the fall of 1996 he was not alone. The trio of Phillips, Bernard Robertson and Noel Ellis has played football together since they were teenagers at Karr High School in New Orleans. Ellis and Phillips friendship began even earlier than high school when the two played basketball together at the age of 13. It was no coincidence that all three ended up at Tulane.
"We talked about it and decided that we were going to go to the same school," comments Phillips. "So we chose Tulane."
The relationship between the three was important to Phillips in on and off the field.
"These are guys that I played with and counted on in high school," said Phillips. "College is a new experience and it was made comfortable because I was able to be with these guys on and off the field."
The transition proved fruitful, as Phillips has become one of the most solid defensive players in school history, just look in the records. With the help of his friends and strong work ethic Phillips is a leader that will be remembered by his fellow teammates and coaches for a while to come.