Eli Manning has Peyton. Billy Ripken had Cal. Dan McGwire had Mark and North Texas’ Jeremy Phillips has TCU’s Jason Phillips. All of these brother combinations share a common bond in that they had one brother overshadow the other for at least a moment in time, in some cases their careers. When Jeremy signed on at North Texas this past spring, he did so with a goal in mind that he no longer wants to be known as just’ Jason’s brother, he wants to make a name for himself.
“When I first got out of high school I didn’t have an offer from TCU so I decided to sign here (North Texas),” Jeremy said. “TCU came back into the picture late but I decided to stick with my decision and go to school here. I’ve never been the type of person to break away from a commitment and I didn’t want to do that here. Throughout high school I’ve always been compared to my brother but I saw this as an opportunity to make my own name.”
Those are pretty lofty expectations considering the credentials that Jason has earned at TCU. Jason appeared on the watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Dick Butkus Award in 2007. He has been a three-time all-Mountain West performer and was named the State’s Best Linebacker by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Jason is also the leading tackler amongst all active Horned Frogs.
All of these impressive accomplishments may have made it difficult on Jeremy throughout his football career at Waller High School, but a clean slate with North Texas should provide an opportunity for him to create his own identity.
Growing up, the brothers knew there was a time and place for football but they were just your “ordinary family” according to Jeremy. “When it was football season we dived right in,” he said. “But we also knew when to pull back and just have a regular relationship. It was always brotherly love. He’d beat me up all the time (laughing).”
Jason, who is now entering his senior season at TCU, also shares the same sentiments as Jeremy. “We’re real close,” he said. “When he started high school he was playing quarterback and I had been the quarterback before him. We both played for my dad (Jim Phillips). He would call and ask things and I’d help him out. And we grew up beating him up all the time (laughs), me and my older brother would beat him up. He caught the short end of the stick on that.”
Jeremy begins his tenure in Denton by making a vast position change from quarterback to safety. Last year at Waller, Phillips completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,538 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,223 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to leading the Bulldogs to the 4A Division II, Region III finals for the first time in school history. Now he begins the adjustment period of being someone that used to hit receivers with a ball, to now laying them out himself.
“It’s been so-so,” Jeremy said of the position move. “It’s definitely different being on the defensive side of the ball. I think once I get my footwork down I’ll be good to go.”
Jason believes that Jeremy has the ability to be a top-notch safety for the Mean Green, noting that his work ethic is immense. “He’s real instinctive and knows how to play the game, growing up around it like I did,” he said. “He knows the X’s and O’s and he plays hard. I remember in high school watching him throw up on the field 15-20 times when he was sick and he kept going. He’s has a lot of heart.”
Although Jeremy comes in as a freshman and playing time may be limited, he knows he has the ability to make an impact. “I just want to do what I can to help this team win. If it’s being playmaker or just playing smart football, I want to help us win.”
And he can do so wearing green and white, making his own name.