Published on July 15th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford0
Former LSU Linebacker, Jacob Phillips Talks About Joining the “LSU-Loaded” Cleveland Browns Roster
Jacob Phillips now joins, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit as former LSU Tigers now calling Cleveland home!
Jacob Phillips capped off his college career by capturing a National Championship for the LSU Tigers. The Tigers went undefeated and concluded their miracle season by defeating defending champs Clemson 42-25 in front of over 75,000 fans in New Orleans. Phillips was an intricate part of this run as he had been seeing playing time since his freshman year in Baton Rouge and started in all but one game as a sophomore. His junior year, he led the team in tackles and the Tigers finished as the #1 team in the country. The Cleveland Browns selected Phillips in the 3rd round with the 97th pick overall. With several young talents already in place, Phillips should add some much-needed toughness and versatility to a Cleveland team that finished 6-10 last season.
I caught up with, Jacob Phillips to discuss LSU’s National Championship season, his transition to the pros and much more!
You were selected in the third round by the Cleveland Browns. To have you dreams come true of being drafted into the NFL. What was that experience like for you?
Jacob Phillips: It was a blessing. To see that going across the screen, I was very thankful for the moment and still am.
I call it the LSU Browns. To have Grant Delpit be selected there as well, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Greedy Williams already in place there, does that help you to have all of those ex LSU Tigers on the roster given the fact that this offseason entering your rookie year isn’t the traditional crossover from college to pro because of Covid-19?
Jacob Phillips: (Laughing), oh yeah, definitely! With Odell and Jarvis, being leaders of the team, to have that LSU connection is kind of cool because they will be able to give me different things that I wouldn’t have been able to see, as far as advice. Also, having Grant and Greedy on the team, I will have some familiarity on the defense. They will be my teammates on the defense and that’s pretty cool too.
This rookie class is definitely in a league of their own. You guys are forced to deal with circumstances that no other rookie class has dealt with. What have you been doing to prepare your mind as well as your body for the unexpected?
Jacob Phillips: My days have been going how it would’ve without this Corona thing. I’m still working out, finding time to do that. We were in minicamp where we were having meetings every day and studying every day. But now the meetings have ended, and I’m continuing to study my playbook and just trying to be well prepared for when camp starts on the 23rd or 28th… something like that.
I’m not even sure if you have given this any thought, but you bypassed your senior year to go pro. If this Corona Virus was a thing right after the National Title game or before you made up your mind to leave because I’m not sure when that was, do you think this would have affected your decision or was it a foregone conclusion that you were coming out?
Jacob Phillips: It was set in stone that I was going to leave for me. It just is what it is with this whole Corona thing. I’m just going to continue to try and make every day as normal as possible and get prepared for the season.
Just to touch on your time at LSU right quick, I don’t know what made you flip from Oklahoma to LSU, but we thank you.
Jacob Phillips: (Laughing)!
Finished off your college football career undefeated with a National Championship. How does it feel to be a part of such a prestigious team and place in college football history, and when did you feel you guys had something special?
Jacob Phillips: I would say about mid-season. But when we beat Alabama, it became real. Going into the season, I think some people had us projected to lose about 3 or 4 games. We knew that wasn’t going to happen. We knew what we had. I think once we hit that bye-week and came back, that second part of the season… most teams will buckle or get complacent and tired of everything, but that’s really when we hit our stride and we turned everything up. At that point, I knew nobody was going to be able to stop us.
To be a part of a team who is widely considered the greatest team in college football history, how does that feel?
Jacob Phillips: It means a whole lot. To have all the work that we put in be appreciated in that way, to be marked as the best team… it’s something that we didn’t go into the season striving for that, but we deserved it from the work that we put in and the product that we put on the field every weekend.
The mark of a championship team is balance. There were games where the defense had to pick of their productivity because the offense was struggling. And there were games where the offense had to put up numbers because the defense was struggling. I think you guys showed that at any given time, one side or the other could step up.
Jacob Phillips: Definitely! Going in on Monday’s after every game, seeing what we did right and seeing what we did wrong, it was more like, did the offense win or lose the week or did the defense win or lose the week? I feel like that breeds competition. We want to win the game as a team, but within that locker room, we wanted to win the game on defense. I think that helped us a lot.
You are what we are starting to see a lot of in the NFL, that hybrid linebacker that can play sideline to sideline, plug holes and be put in coverage. Do you have an idea of what the Cleveland Browns expect from you?
Jacob Phillips: Yeah, they see me playing the Mike or the Will. They see me playing both, so they want me to play both. When camp rolls around, I’m going to be out there showing what I got.
Any preference for you?
Jacob Phillips: Nah, it don’t matter. I just want to help my defense succeed.
Just from the meetings and going through your playbook, what do you feel is the biggest difference at this stage from your collegiate days to becoming a pro?
Jacob Phillips: I think LSU prepared us well. Coach Aranda having us come in during the summer and the fall and having us learn 4 to 5 new plays a day. With us learning that many… to a lot of people, that may be a lot on their plate, but I’m used to it. It’s still a step up, it’s still an increase and the margin of error is still smaller than it was in college. I still respect that this is a different league with different expectations.
You’re a southern guy. Have you wrapped your mind around the cultural and climate changes of Cleveland?
Jacob Phillips: (Laughing)! Yeah… that just comes with it. It is what it is. Cleveland is a real nice city though. I went up there a couple of times. I recently moved here. I enjoy my time there. The fans recognize me and talk to me super nice. I can tell that they really love the team and really love being a Browns fan.
You spoke about LSU not allowing you guys to become complacent and no point during the season. There was no money involved then. You still sound very hungry and levelheaded. How do you not become complacent now that there is money involved and where does your composure come from?
Jacob Phillips: I say it’s just my love for the game. Being in the NFL and being paid to play the game is something I am thankful for. It has always been a dream of mine. Just playing football has always been my thing because I just love the game. I love everything that it brings and it’s something I have been doing all of my life and I can’t see myself stopping.
Do you feel like rivalries like LSU-Bama and LSU-Georgia has mentally prepared you for a Browns-Steelers rivalry?
Jacob Phillips: I definitely think it does. It’s all bad blood going into the game. Those are going to be the games that are talked about and watched the most. Playing in that game even this year, [President] Trump was even there it was such a big game. I know that I will be used to the big rivalry games in the NFL.
What area do you feel you need the most improvement on as a football player?
Jacob Phillips: I just try and get better at everything. In terms of getting stronger, I try to improve every day, on the field, I try to improve every day and studying my plays. I want to well-rounded. I want to be the best and that’s what it’s going to take.
I can’t wait to see you on that field, Maxx Management has a hell of a linebacker and a great character guy on the roster. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
Jacob Phillips: Yes sir! It’s all good. Thank you!