- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips amazes his teammates almost daily.
And not just with his natural ability to blow past opposing offensive linemen.
“He’s the only 300-pound guy I’ve ever seen do a standing backflip in his pads,” said fellow defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland. “And he can dunk with two hands, which is amazing.”
At 6-foot-6, now 330 pounds, Phillips looks like a tackle. But more than a tackle, he’s an athlete.
Last season, an academic snafu caused the Towanda, Kan., to arrive in Norman a couple of weeks after fall camp had started, ultimately leading him to redshirt. All it took was one practice, however, for Phillips to make his presence known. As the Sooners were warming up, Phillips did a standing backflip in front of the entire team -- forcing position coach Jackie Shipp to do something he never thought he’d have to do: outlaw backflips among his players.
“Coach Shipp was like, ‘Don’t do that no more. That’s too scary,’” McFarland recalled. “But he can do it.”
Shipp hasn’t outlawed dunking, but that could be next. Phillips is maybe the only OU defensive lineman able to throw down a two-handed jam. Despite weighing well over 300 pounds, Phillips, who averaged a double-double his final two seasons of high school, is also one of the best basketball players on the football team.
“I’ve seen him shoot from half court like they’re free throws,” McFarland said. “He’s amazing to watch. He can do whatever, honestly, I believe he could do baseball or swim.”
What the Sooners need most from Phillips is to eventually emerge as a difference-maker up front. The steady trio of Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and McFarland figure to anchor the tackle position for a third straight year. But all three will be gone after this season, which will leave a sizeable void down the middle of the defense.
The Sooners have other promising tackles. Redshirt freshman Marquis Anderson is more of a combo lineman in the mold of David King, able to play either tackle or end. Mid-semester addition Jordan Wade, meanwhile, is an intriguing prospect, though still probably a year away from seriously contributing. Then there are sophomores Damon Williams and Torrea Peterson, who, as McFarland puts it, are both capable of being “low-pad, run-stuffers.”
But none possesses the athletic tool belt Phillips does.
“He has amazing ability to do pretty much anything he wants,” McFarland said. “All he has to do is put his mind to it.”
6dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter