Jaden Phillips commits to UNM


May 20, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Clovis junior Jaden Phillips has verbally committed to the University of New Mexico. Phillips had 25 catches for 489 yards and two touchdowns at the tight end position last season.

CLOVIS - Jaden Phillips is a New Mexico native. And his residence status isn't expected to change until at least mid-decade.

Late last week, the Clovis High defensive end/wide receiver announced that he had committed to playing for the University of New Mexico. Climbing the football ladder up to Division I will involve a 3 1/2-hour car ride to Albuquerque.

Phillips, who will be a Clovis High senior in August, was recruited by UNM as a defensive athlete, and will play either defensive line or linebacker for the Lobos.

"I'm really excited that I'll get to represent for my state and my hometown," said Phillips, a lifelong Clovis resident. "And I'm going to a real good college."

"He realizes the importance of him going there," Clovis head football coach Cal Fullerton said. "Now our kids are going to look up to him. He can kind of lead the way now and show these younger kids that stuff's possible when you do what you need to. ... The sky's the limit."

Phillips, 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, was recruited by a football program in flux, with head coach Bob Davie and UNM agreeing to part ways last November after eight seasons. Davie, who had previously coached Notre Dame for five seasons, was replaced at UNM by Danny Gonzales, a man who knows defense. Gonzales' most recent coaching position was as Arizona State's defensive coordinator under head coach Herm Edwards, a former NFL defensive back and coach.

Gonzales will be entrenched as Lobos head coach by the time Phillips arrives in Albuquerque to play for him next year. Where Phillips will play for Gonzales may not be decided until then, according to Fullerton.

"They're not sure," Fullerton said. "They talked about maybe inside linebacker, and they talked about a down lineman. They do want him for defense because they like the way he's built. They want him with his hand on the ground (playing defensive line). But they see how athletic he is, so they might play him at linebacker."

Wherever Phillips is asked to line up, he will fill the role gladly.

"As long as I'm out there making an impact, helping the team," he said.

For Phillips, going Division I is part of a football adventure that began in the second grade. It took about five years, though, for him to begin seeing his own potential.

"It started in middle school when I realized that I actually could do something with the sport," Phillips said. "My love for the game developed as I realized that I could play this sport and do great things as I got older and started growing stronger and my desire to get better and play the game was a whole lot stronger."

Nature helped out, as Phillips grew into the shape of a Division I college player, as his height and weight started to fall in line with his desire to play at a higher level. His athleticism didn't hurt, either.

"Him being a three-sport athlete, coaches at the next level, they love that," Fullerton said. "They like to see kids competing year round."

UNM saw Phillips follow football season with basketball season, basketball season with track season. And the Lobos counted themselves lucky that the defensive standout and overall athlete was still available.

"They were really surprised that more teams weren't on him," Fullerton said. "Just what they saw he puts on film, the kind of kid he is, his grades are good. They're pretty much getting the all-around package with Jaden."


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