September 20, 2005

Phillips seals Miami's first win

Freshmen from all over the nation are stepping up their games as the football season progresses, putting up big yards and laying on big hits in their first games on the collegiate gridiron.

But how about going from freshman second-stringer to team hero in just a matter of weeks?

That's what Miami's Kenny Phillips did last weekend. His interception in triple overtime ended the ACC matchup against Clemson, sealed the Hurricanes their first win of the season, and earned Phillips Rivals.com Freshman of the Week honors.

Phillips wasn't expected to be on the field much at the beginning of the season, but a season-ending injury to Freshman All-American safety Anthony Reddick vaulted the freshman into the starting lineup.

When Miami coach Larry Coker realized he had lost Reddick for the rest of the season just two weeks ago, he didn't waste much time crying over spilled milk.

Coker knew he'd miss Reddick, but he had a freshman cornerback waiting on the sidelines who was more than capable of filling the fallen star's shoes. Phillips, ranked No. 12 overall in the class of 2005, had already earned Coker's confidence.

"I think he's ready," Coker said of Phillips after he learned the extent of Reddick's injury. "Will he make some mistakes? I'm sure he will. But he's also a big playmaker."

Coker's prophecy turned out to be the gospel truth on Saturday. After Miami gave up 10 late fourth-quarter points to Clemson, the game went into overtime. The teams matched scores in the first two extra periods. Then Miami tailback Tyrone Moss found the end zone on a 25-yard scamper. The two-point conversion attempt failed, giving the ball back to Clemson with only a six-point Hurricanes' lead.

Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst had led the Tigers on four consecutive scoring drives, but he wasn't so lucky in the third overtime.

"I was just covering my assignment," Phillips told Rivals.com after the game. "I saw the receiver cutting across the field, I ran to him, the quarterback misfired, and I was there to make the play."

Phillips began to return the interception, then thought better of it and slid to the ground, ending the game. The Miami Hurricanes, who were in danger of beginning ACC play 0-2, rushed to celebrate with Phillips.

"It felt great. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life thus far," Phillips said.

Game-ending interception aside, Phillips had a solid outing against Clemson. He was second on the team with 10 tackles.

"I always thought I was going to play, but I never thought that I would start right away. It's just a great feeling."

Other freshmen of note:
• TCU tailback Aaron Brown had an outstanding game Thursday night in front of a national television audience. He racked up 163 yards on 17 attempts as TCU snapped Utah's 18-game winning streak. The freshman did not have a collegiate carry heading into Thursday's game.

• Alabama left guard Antoine Caldwell helped the Crimson Tide control the line of scrimmage against South Carolina on Saturday. Alabama piled up 338 yards rushing while only allowing one sack in the 37-14 win. Caldwell, a redshirt freshman, has started all three games. At right guard, B.J. Stabler also got his first start on Saturday.

• Florida State's freshmen continued to improve against ACC foe Boston College on Saturday. Drew Weatherford completed 20 of 38 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns while Greg Carr caught three passes and scored two touchdowns.

• Two of the nation's top freshman running backs squared off in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend. Arizona State's Keegan Herring racked up 197 yards on 23 carries and scored twice as the Sun Devils drilled Northwestern, 52-21. Tyrell Sutton followed up last week's Freshman of the Week performance with another strong showing, tallying 98 yards on only 15 carries.

• With Virginia starting running back Wali Lundy sidelined with an injury, redshirt freshman Cedric Peerman had a solid day for the Cavaliers, totaling 63 rushing yards and one touchdown in a nailbiting 27-24 win over Syracuse. He also caught a TD pass in the game.

• N.C. State true freshman Toney Baker logged 85 yards on only six carries and scored three times in a 54-10 victory over Eastern Kentucky.

• In the Big East, West Virginia true freshman Jason Gwaltney totaled 44 yards and two scores, while Louisville's Mario Urrutia racked up 175 yards on seven catches, scoring two touchdowns.

• Ending on a strong note, Texas running back Jamaal Charles finally outrushed his quarterback. Charles piled on 189 yards on 16 carries and scored three times against Rice.


Freshman of the Week:
Week 1: James Davis, Clemson
Week 2: Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern


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