As a former North Carolina quarterback and tight end, B.J. Phillips has plenty of inside information on the Tar Heels.
He knows the intricacies of the West Coast offense brought in two years ago by UNC coach Butch Davis. And at tight end, he spent plenty of practice time trying to block the Tar Heels' formidable defensive line.
Now that Phillips is playing tight end for The Citadel, that information is coming in handy for the Bulldogs as they prepare to open their season Saturday at No. 21 North Carolina.
"He was there three years as a
quarterback and tight end," Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said. "So he knows their personnel well. The good news is, he can tell us all about them.
"The bad news is, they can all run fast and are big and strong, and we still have to handle that."
Phillips, 6-5 and 260 pounds, went head-to-head in practice with guys like all-ACC tackle Marvin Austin (6-3, 300) and defensive end Robert Quinn, a 6-5, 260-pound sophomore from Fort Dorchester High School.
"They are going to be big and fast and strong, and a lot of them have NFL potential," Phillips said. "They are great defensive linemen.
"Look at their team in general, and their defensive line and linebackers are probably the best part of the team, from top to bottom. They are huge and physical. But it's not a thing where the right technique from a guy like me can't get them blocked."
Phillips' insights might mean the most to the Bulldogs' offensive linemen. "He's helping us out a lot," senior tackle Dan DeHaven said. "He tells us little pointers we can really use, like a guy's favorite pass-rush move. Do they like to read a play, do they spin? All little things like that help a lot."
Of course, the Bulldogs are hoping Phillips can offer much more than Tar Heel scouting reports. An all-state QB at Spring Valley High School, where he played with Citadel All-American receiver Andre Roberts, Phillips was recruited to UNC as a quarterback by former coach John Bunting.
But the arrival of Davis, a move to tight end and several injuries limited Phillips' playing time. He graduated from UNC with a degree in business this summer (in just three years) and transferred to The Citadel, where he will have two years of eligibility left.
Phillips is currently the Bulldogs' No. 2 tight end, behind Alex Sellars, and also is on several special teams.
"He's really still learning the trade at tight end," Higgins said. "But he's got very good hands and is athletic. He's learning the fundamentals of being a consistent run blocker, and we think he will get there."
After standing on the sidelines for much of his UNC career, Phillips just wants to play.
"I can foresee that already," he said. "I think I will get a lot more time on the field here. I love North Carolina, and I don't regret going there for my first three years.
"If I had not, I might not be in the situation I am today."
There can't be too many other transfers in college football who are facing their former team in their first game with their new team. Phillips relishes the opportunity.
"Everybody asks if it's strange, or if I'm excited," he said. "I'm excited, but just like for any other game. I just want to play this game like any other game, with the same intensity and at 100 percent. Hopefully, we'll come out with a win and I'll be able to shake my old teammates' hands and smile."
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