June 19, 2012

Commit No. 13

The issue before Fort Worth All Saints linebacker Xavier Phillips may not be when is he going to commit. It's probably, why hasn't he done it already.

Showered with 23 offers ranging from BCS programs to the Ivy League, this three-star linebacker has developed such an affinity to Baylor, that he appears to be close to making his commitment decision.

"Baylor is No. 1 for me,'' he said. "I'm about 90-95 percent sure I'm going to commit to them. Baylor is not too far for me and they are no joke in the Big 12. They are going to be contenders.''

On Monday, Phillips said he spoke with linebackers coach Jim Gush and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett to review where he could be a fit for the 4-2-5 scheme. With his versatile frame (6-2, 220), he said they talked about either the inside or outside linebacker positions and possibly defensive end.

Should he follow through with his commitment, this probably doesn't impact Baylor's pursuit of Fort Bend Marshall's Deon Hollins Jr.. While both are the same build, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the coaching staff keep one with the linebackers and move the other to defensive end. Of course, Phillips has to commit first and Hollins has to switch from UCLA.

Like it did in 2012, Baylor continues to be defensive heavy with the 2013 class. With eight of the first 12 commitments coming on the defensive side, the coaching staff recognizes that it can't live on offense alone. A quality BCS program must be consistent enough on defense to make stops without hoping the offense will bail it out.

Phillips' relationship with the coaching staff shortly after it reviewed his film ealier in the spring. It accelerated when he attended the spring football game back in April. While he's honored to have offers from Ivy League schools including Harvard, Yale and Pennsylvania, he wants to compete athletically and academically at the highest level.

There's a chance he could receive an offer from TCU, but Phillips said that really won't affect his decision should the Horned Frogs present one.

What Baylor knows is that a lanky, strong and fast athlete can fit. Naturally, the coaching staff doesn't have to worry about him in the classroom since he already scored a 1610 on the SAT.

At this point, Phillips wants to take official visits to Central Florida, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. However, the commitment could impact that thought process.

"I know those are schools still looking for linebackers,'' he said. "I have no idea how it's going to go with them. But I like the relationship I have with the Baylor coaches. It's been tight since I started talking to them. I want to stay close to home.''

Phillips said he plans on going through Waco once All Saints finishes playing at the state 7-on-7 tournament in College Station in mid-July.

He could be a Bear by then.

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