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Recruit Report: Dante Phillips, DT, Venice

Name: Dante Phillips
Defensive Tackle
High School:
Venice (Venice, FL)
Verbally committed to Florida
Others in Play:
Alabama, Auburn, LSU, USC, USF
Video 1, Video 2 ($)

Good sign for Florida: Phillips is committed. Bad sign for Florida: He says he’ll take all of his visits. Good sign for Florida: Phillips is from Venice, home of Trey Burton and Clay Burton. Bad sign for Florida: among those schools he wants to visit are SEC members Alabama, Auburn, and LSU.

Phillips feels strong about his commitment to the Gators, but whenever there is the mention of other schools, fans worry. And rightfully so. Some will say "I’d take all those visits too. You get one chance to do that. Why not?" While I agree with that, I just have one question: then why commit? If you take the visits just to take visits, then knock yourself out, but there’s no telling why a recruit is doing so. If he’s truly interested in those other schools, then maybe, just maybe, he isn’t fully committed. This is of course what we spend most of the offseason debating and what keeps us interested all the way through national signing day.

Like a running back is told, Phillips keeps his legs moving despite not being the one with the ball. At the point of attack, he’s determined not to be run over. By constantly moving, he’s pushing the ball carrier back instead of being something the runner just runs into. Being much taller than those coming at him with the ball, Phillips leverages his body to push the runner back and take him to the ground. You can almost see him using his lower body to shift momentum his way before he bends at the waste to push the runner down with his upper body.

You’re not going to see Phillips make every play throughout the single game highlight packages, but you can get a glimpse of what he can do and how he uses his height – as mentioned – to his advantage. Phillips takes on double-teams several times and still manages to push the blockers into the backfield. Doing so can disrupt the play for the offense, so even if he isn’t being credited with a tackle, he’s definitely contributing.

The biggest knock on Phillips right now is his weight for his substantial height. For the defensive tackle position, Phillips is small. His height would make him shorter than only Earl Okine (currently listed at DT) on the Gators roster at his position, but his weight would make him the thinnest. While a player like Dominique Easley only has 10 pounds on Phillips, Easley is four inches shorter. Phillips needs to add bulk if he plans to stay at the position. Adding strength is vital in allowing him to be as much of a force as he is in high school.

Keep an eye on this one particularly because of those mentioned visits. Phillips is committed now, but Florida will have to work to keep him.