Adrian Phillips had a dream of hearing his name called in 2014 after starring at Texas, but his phone never rang.
Not only that, he wasn’t even offered a single contract as an undrafted free agent.
Phillips attended a couple of tryouts, believing if someone would just take a chance he would reward their faith in him. He left both without a contract.
Finally, on June 16, the Chargers reached out and signed him to a deal.
“That taught me to be humble,” he said. “You have a dream of being drafted since you were a little kid, and I not only didn’t have that moment, but I didn’t even have a team say they wanted to pick me in as a priority free agent. That was a real humbling moment. I looked at it as what am I going to do now. I had two options. I could either grind and prove everybody wrong, or lay down and prove them right. After that moment, that is when I really buckled down and went to work.”
Phillips defied the odds as he now enters his third season in San Diego. Still, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the 5-11, 210-pound safety. He started each of the past two seasons on the practice squad, and has split his entire career bouncing back and forth to the active roster. All in all, he’s been waived eight times and promoted to the 53-man roster on five occasions.
Now, he looks to provide stability at safety entering 2016.
“It’s not easy to stay focused, and it could be easy to get off track. I’m tired of going up and down on the practice squad. Really the main thing is trusting the process and trusting that if you handle what you are supposed to do, then everything will work out. I’m doing everything in my power to not let this slip away.”
Phillips has appeared in 12 games with two starts over his career, registering 20 tackles, one interception, one pass defensed and one tackle for loss. He played in nine games last year with two starts, with his first career pick a 39-yard interception off Brock Osweiler in the Chargers season finale to set up a field goal.
The Bolts had enough faith in Phillips back in 2014 to give him a shot. Now, he hopes to reward the team’s faith entering 2016 that he can emerge to play a significant role. He plans to do that primarily through his intelligence.
“What I take pride in most is being smart. I know without a doubt that I’m not one of the best athletes on the field. But I also know that without a doubt that nobody knows the defense better than me. I can know what type of offense is going to be run just by how they line up. That gives me the extra step to where on paper I may be slower than my competition, but on the field I’ll move even faster than them because I know what I’m doing.”