The former Handley standout told The Star on Tuesday that he plans to complete paper work related to his transfer from Auburn to JSU “by the end of the week.”
“Then I have to get back with (JSU) Coach (Jack) Crowe and see how everything is going to go down,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he made initial contact with Crowe late this past week.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Monday Auburn granted Phillips an unconditional release. Phillips said he still has to sign paperwork.
Chizik also said Phillips had decided to give up football, but Phillips said he hopes to be on the field with JSU this fall.
“I just want to get in school somewhere and get ready to play ball,” he said.
If Phillips transfers down from Football Bowl Subdivision school to a Football Championship Subdivision school like JSU, he will not have to sit out a transfer year and would be eligible immediately.
JSU has been experimenting at fullback using converted linebacker Lequintez Reynolds, a sophomore, and Jerry Slota, a junior who also sees time at tight end.
Phillips is a redshirt sophomore who saw little playing time during his Auburn stay. The only true fullback in a system that rarely utilized the position, he did not get a carry in 2011.
Phillips came to Auburn as a stellar career as a defensive tackle and
fullback a Handley. As a senior in 2009, he was a Class 4A first-team all-state pick as a defensive lineman and a member of The Star’s Dandy Dozen.
During his final three prep seasons, he also rushed for 2,982 yards and 49 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,145 yards and 16 scores as a senior, helping his team reach the state semifinals.
He redshirted during his first season at Auburn then saw little action in 2011.
“He was a great high school football player, and I expected big things from him when he went down there to Auburn,” Handley coach Mike Battles said. “I thought he’d go down there and have an impact right off the bat.”
“But it didn’t happen, and I think he got hurt a little bit that first year. I’m really surprised, and I think he’ll play college football. It’s just not going to be at Auburn.”
Auburn changed offensive coordinators during the offseason, with new coordinator Scot Loeffler promising more of a physical style running game.
Auburn also accepted the transfer of fullback Jay Prosch from Illinois, and the school is appealing for his immediate eligibility.
Phillips has not participated in spring practice at Auburn. Chizik said initially that Phillips was out for personal reasons then said Monday that Phillips had opted to give up football.
“I just decided to leave,” Phillips said Tuesday.
He said his decision to leave Auburn came down to playing time, and he plans to transfer to JSU.
“I really enjoyed it. You can’t get no better than Auburn, D-I (Division I),” he said. “I just felt like I needed to transfer to go somewhere and get some playing time.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.