If you need a reason to get excited about Del’Shawn Phillips joining the Illinois defense this season, just watch his highlight tape.
When we talked about the players we were most excited for this season, Phillips’ name immediately jumped on the list. Coming off a national championship with Garden City Community College, Phillips was the captain of a defense that did not give up more than 22 points a game last season. Del’Shawn was a four star recruit coming out of high school, and flipped his commitment from the Arizona Wildcats to Illinois back in December of 2016.
Phillips is a tackling machine, logging a total of 95 tackles last season for Garden City. Among those hits were 12.5 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks. The 6’1” JUCO transfer is a much needed replacement for a linebacker corps that saw one starter graduate, and one starter move to the defensive line. His speed and awareness to find the right gaps at the line of scrimmage makes Phillips a highly anticipated addition to the Illinois defense. Hardy Nickerson and Lovie Smith will be great mentors as Del’Shawn grows and develops in this new system.
The early eye test shows that Del’Shawn Phillips is the linebacker we’ve been waiting for, and fans are excited to see Number 1 disrupting opposing offenses on Saturday afternoons.