Last season we saw a possible record in terms of number of true freshmen that saw action. Ricardo Allen, Bruce Gaston, Normando Harris, Ryan Isaac, Gabe Holmes, Will Lucas, Reggie Pegram, Sean Robinson, O.J. Ross, and Cody Wesbter were all players that saw time during their first season instead of redshirtting. Some could have used the redshirt, while others, like Allen and Gaston, were definitely ready to go from day 1. Today's featured player could go either way.
We don't have a ton of need at linebacker with Lucas, Chris Carlino, Dwayne Beckford, and Joe Holland already bringing a ton of experience tot he position. Mike Lee and Joe Gilliam are expected to chip in coming off of their redshirt years too. Jalani Phillips might be good enough to carve himself a role immediately.
Jalani Phillips - Fr.
Hometown: Warner Robbins, GA (Houston County HS)
6'4", 255 pounds
2011 Projection: possible contributor at linebacker
Phillips has some major advantages going for him. First, he was able to enroll early and go through spring practice like Lucas did last season. Second, he is the biggest linebacker we have. This makes me think that he and Antwon Higgs could get told to put a hand in the dirt and move to defensive end. That's pure speculation at this point, but Phillips might be too good to redshirt despite the experience in front of him. Given the problems we have had at linebacker, that's not a bad thing.
His high school called him the most highly recruited prospect in his class at the school. He has speed to go with his size, and he is actually a holdover from the 2010 recruiting class as a greyshirt, giving him freshman eligibility. That's why he was able to go through spring practice already. I think he redshirts this year, but don't be surprised if he earns some playing time.
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