We’ll get to the others that have been committed for a while, but for now we’re going with freshness.
Name: Lorenzo Phillips
High School: Patterson (Patterson, LA)
Status: Verbally committed to Florida
On Wednesday, Phillips became the 12th member of Florida’s 2012 recruiting class and the second linebacker – joining Jeremi Powell. According to Rivals, Phillips is the no. 15 outside linebacker in the nation and the no. 146 overall player. Although he has mentioned leaving the state of Louisiana before, it’s still big for a school to pull a talented prospect away from LSU. At the moment, Phillips says he doesn’t intend to take any additional visits and is fully committed to the Gators.
With all this talk of Ronald Powell and the Gators new "buck" position, clips of Phillips may get you excited. But don’t jump out of your chair too quickly; Phillips has to add a lot of bulk if he ever hopes to play the buck. In reality, that’s probably not the position for Phillips. Instead he looks like he could become an outside linebacker in the Florida system in the mold of an Earl Everett – a player who came in without exceptional size, but developed in one of the more underrated defenders in recent memory.
Phillips is given the freedom in high school to push right up to the line of scrimmage before the snap, allowing him to get a step up on the blitz. He shows great speed to the quarterback or the ball carrier and accumulates numerous tackles-for-loss. With Florida running a system that could frequently alternate between the 4-3 and the 3-4, a player with Phillips’ skill set should fit in nicely. When required to get into the backfield, Phillips can do it. He has the speed, acceleration, and ability to not get beaten by the player with the ball.
Another strength is his ability to beat his blocker. In other breakdowns, we’ve talked about offensive lines completely ignoring defenders. A player looks great making plays in the backfield, but half of it is attributed to the fact that no offensive lineman even looked in his direction. Phillips is seen several times actually beating his man. Whether using his speed to get by him at the snap or working his way through or around the blocker, Phillips has the ability to get loose to make tackles.
It appears that the defense Phillips plays in requires him to spend most of his time blitzing or reacting to the play at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, due to this, we have a hard time determining how he performs in pass coverage. Phillips’ field speed indicates he should be able to keep up with most tight ends/running backs/etc. he may be covering, but without seeing it with our own eyes, it’s hard to predict. It’s something we’ll hope for though because it’s definitely a skill he’ll need.
With Phillips and Powell already in the mix, expect the Gators to take one or two more linebackers in this class.