Phillips picks Illinois

Carroll Phillips thought coming out of Miami Central High
School, he’d play his college football at Cincinnati.

Now he’ll get to do so at Illinois after the outside linebacker committed
to Tim Beckman’s team on Wednesday afternoon.

The outside linebacker spent this past fall at Copiah-Lincoln Community
College in Wesson, Miss., after falling a half-credit short of qualifying
academically at Cincinnati, whho he signed with in 2011.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity and a blessing from God to get back
at the Division I level and play in a good conference like the Big Ten,”
Phillips said. “They see me as a guy that can rush from the edge and get
into coverage. I like doing both, but I love blitzing and getting after
the quarterback.”

Phillips, who will vie for time at the LEO spot, the hybrid
linebacker/defensive end position Illinois uses, will have three seasons
of eligibility at Illinois. He plans to sign in February before enrolling
in June.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me to succeed in life with my
education as well as my football career,” Phillips said. “Academic-wise,
it sounded like they are really in tune with that aspect. It’s a way
that’s set up to get your degree.”

Phillips — who is the fifth JUCO transfer Illinois has in the Class of
2014 — finished with 50 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery and one
interception in his lone season at Copiah-Lincoln, which went 7-2 this
season.

Outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson was the primary recruiter on
Phillips, who also had offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Memphis, Middle
Tennessee, Southern Mississippi, Temple and Western Kentucky. Phillips
visited Illinois last weekend and liked what he saw.

“The coaches are very big on family,” Phillips said. “When they brought me
up there, they made me feel like I was a part of the family. Plus, the
facilities they have are wonderful.”

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