One thing that Ryan Walters has done a great job of, I think even his harshest critics would agree, is getting former players to return and really finding a way to harness the history of the program. Already this year Purdue has seen guys like Rosevelt Colvin, Mike Alstott, and Mel Gray come back to campus and play a big role wether that be as an honorary captain or on TV talking about the Boilermakers. It’s one of the things that you heard about Jeff Brohm not doing. Keeping that alumni connection with former players means a lot. It shows the current players, and their loved ones, that Purdue is a family and it’s not just during the four years that you’re on campus. You’re part of the Boilermaker family forever.
This week, Ryan Walters and the football program announced another very impressive former Boilermaker as their honorary captain.
As the tweet there notes, Phillips is a member of the Den of Defensive Ends here at Purdue but, as I learned today, if Phillips had his way the Den of Defensive Ends would’ve been called the fraternity of defensive ends. Phillips mentioned that name during an interview with Purdue Sports in 2003. I gotta say, Phillips is great at getting to the quarterback but I’m not on his side on this one. Den definitely works better than fraternity.
Now, as for on the field production there’s nothing you can take away from Phillips. He was an absolutely dominant presence. He ended his Purdue career with 33.5 sacks including a senior year which saw him get the QB 14.5 times. He also has an impressive 60.5 tackles for loss. Phillips earned honorable mention All-American honors and was named all Big Ten his senior year. We can’t forget also that Phillips was the occasional offensive substitution and scored two touchdowns in his career at Purdue in a tight end role.
During an 11 year NFL career he finished up with 81.5 sacks and one Pro Bowl selection. He spent the majority of his time in the NFL with the (then) San Diego Chargers before spending additional time with the Broncos, Colts, and Titans. Phillips was a member of the Broncos team in 2013 that went to the Super Bowl but lost to the Seahawks.
It will be great to see Phillips back on campus and firing up the team. Guys like Nic Scourton and Kydran Jenkins could benefit greatly from conversations with a guy like Phillips. Welcome back captain!