Kenny Phillips #21 SS
Height: 6-2 Weight: 217 Age: 27
Born: 11/24/1986 Miami , FL
College: Miami (Fla.)
Experience: 6th season
High School: Miami Carol City HS [Miami, FL]
Selected By: New York Giants
Pick (Overall): 31 (31)
By becoming the ninth safety to earn All-American honors, Kenny Phillips carries on the school's tradition of producing elite defensive backs.
Burgess Owens was the first Miami safety to garner All-American recognition (1972) and it was nine years before the next one was selected in Fred Marion (1981). Bennie Blades was the school's first-time All-American safety (1986-87) and Ed Reed matched that total in 2000-01. Sean Taylor (2003) and Brandon Meriweather (2005) soon followed with their postseason honors.
The coaching staff called Phillips a player with the build of Sean Taylor and the knowledge and quickness of Ed Reed. With that combination, along with physical play that could rival that of any Hurricane linebacker, NFL scouts took notice.
Being regarded as the best safety in the game is nothing new with Phillips. While attending Carol High School he was rated the best safety in the prep ranks, earning USA Today Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior free safety. The Parade All-American and Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team selection was also a member of the USA Today All-USA High School Football team and rated the nation's best safety prospect and 12th-best player regardless of position by Rivals.com.
Phillips was ranked as the best safety and the 10th-best overall prospect by Scout.com and the top prospect in Dade County by the Miami Herald. He ranked as the best prospect in the state by the Orlando Sentinel, the second-best overall prospect in the country by the Tampa Tribune, and the 10th-best overall player by Tom Lemming. He was also a member of the Florida Times-Union Super 75 squad and played in the prestigious Army All-American Bowl.
He intercepted 16 passes during his career and, as a senior, he finished with 84 tackles, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, four defensive touchdowns and three punt returns for touchdowns. As a junior, he delivered 54 tackles and seven interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns, including a 100-yarder. As a sophomore, he made three interceptions and also competed in basketball and track.
In 2005, Phillips enrolled at Miami, choosing the university over scholarship offers from Tennessee, Florida State and North Carolina State. He earned Freshman All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors from The Sporting News, Rivals.com and College Football News. He started the final 11 games of the year at free safety, replacing an injured Anthony Reddick. He ranked third on the team with 67 tackles (40 solo), adding three stops for losses, two quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and an interception.
As a sophomore, Phillips received third-team All-American honors from Rivals.com and was a second-team All-ACC choice, even though he missed the final three regular-season games with a broken thumb. He was one of eight Miami players selected to the 2006 ACC Academic Football Team and was named the team's Defensive Back of the Year. He made 54 tackles (39 solo) with six stops behind the line of scrimmage in ten games, starting at cornerback, free safety and strong safety. He also picked off four passes and deflected six others.
As a junior, Phillips was named All-American first-team by The NFL Draft Report, adding All-ACC first-team accolades. He started all 12 games at free safety, ranking second on the team with 82 tackles (54 solo). He registered six stops for losses and caused three fumbles. He also deflected five passes and came up with a pair of interceptions.
Phillips announced after the 2007 season that he will enter the 2008 NFL Draft as an underclassman. Phillips was advised by Miami head coach Randy Shannon to return for his senior season should he not be projected to go in the top 15, but he conceded it would be tough to turn away from a first-round projection.
''I definitely agree that if you're [projected] in the top 15 you should go,'' Phillips said. ``It's not every day that guys get the opportunity to live out the dream and play in the NFL.''