Yesterday on the Jeff Cameron show, the topic of now departed FSU signee Aubrey Phillips came up. Phillips was a four-star recruit by rivals.com, and signed with the 'Noles in February. Many had concerns about Phillips ability to play for legendary Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Trickett is widely regarded as the premier offensive line coach in college football and he prefers his linemen to be athletes and in impeccable shape. When he signed, Phillips weighed about 320lbs (he is 6'5"). He assured FSU that he wanted to play for Rick Trickett and that he would be willing to put in the work to get down to his assigned goal weight (about 300lbs) by the time he reported for summer camp. Phillips was essentially tasked with losing 15-20lbs over the course of 22 weeks, which is not that difficult for a person of his age and size. Instead of working to lose the weight and come into camp in even a modest approximation of physical fitness, Phillips ballooned to more than 340lbs. That's right, instead of dropping 20, he added 20 (or as much as 30, depending on who you ask).
Predictably, Phillips struggled when he reported to FSU...
The obese offensive tackle lagged through off-season conditioning drills. He was by far the most out of shape player. Grossly unhealthy, Phillips was unable to complete many of the drills and he was clearly struggling. He also probably can't see his feet (or some other things). Phillips participation in the workouts soon tailed off.
He made the wrong choice and I made the wrong choice," Trickett told the Opelika-Auburn News in a phone interview Tuesday. "This stuff happens in recruiting."
Trickett, who served as an Auburn assistant from 1993-98 under Terry Bowden, said Tuesday that he met with Phillips just twice in his office during the summer before Phillips decided to leave. Because of NCAA rules banning on-field contact between players and coaches during the summer, Trickett said he never saw Phillips labor through conditioning drills, but was receiving full reports from
the Seminoles' strength and conditioning staff.
Trickett said that Phillips, who showed up 30 pounds heavier than his high school playing weight, struggled so much that the staff originally believed Phillips had a heart condition. [Phillips wasn't even able to run. He walked through the conditioning drills that he didn't decide to skip]
"We discovered he was just tremendously out of shape," Trickett said. "When he had to get working, he didn't want to do what we expect.
"We have pretty high standards down here right now. It was just the wrong place for him."
Despite their obvious differences, Trickett said he and Phillips parted amicably.
"Wish him well," Trickett said. "Hope it works out for him."
This was obviously not pleasing to Florida State's coaching staff, who probably felt duped by Phillips. They expressed concerns over his ability to get to their desired weight for him before signing the player, he promised them that he could do so, then proceeded to embarrass himself and the program. Rick Trickett told him that he was not allowed to sit with the other linemen at lunch and that he no longer considered Phillips an FSU offensive lineman. Trickett said that he was only still at FSU because of his binding letter of intent. Phillips was not making satisfactory progress towards his goal weight (a goal even tougher given his laziness and complete lack of effort to lose weight before reporting to Florida State).
Coach Trickett is not a nice coach. He is an ex-marine who is very tough on his players and demands that they possess great mental toughness and self-discipline. He is not a coddler of any sort. That's why this story is baffling- recruits know what they are getting in Trickett. To choose to play for Trickett and then completely ignore his instructions seems irrational.
Then last week, Aubrey left the 'Noles and waddled back to Mississippi. "Homesickness" was originally cited as the cause, but word soon began to trickle out that Aubrey's departure was largely based on his immaturity and obesity.
Now, though, Aubrey is embarrassing himself. FSU had enough of his act and granted him his unconditional release and he will transfer to Auburn. Auburn is a fine program and they are willing to take a shot on the young man. Aubrey is saying that the reason he left FSU is that FSU was mistreating him! Obviously, Aubrey can't handle playing major college football at this point.
FSU didn't mistreat Aubrey. Aubrey alienated himself from teammates and coaches through his attitude and inaction. The whole situation really makes me wonder what Aubrey was thinking when he committed to play for the best and most demanding offensive line coach in America.
If anything, FSU was worried about Phillips health. By definition, Phillips is Super-Morbidly Obese, meaning that he has a body mass index of more than 40. That places him in the top 1% of all fat people in the US. Super-Morbid Obesity contributes to a huge number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and is overwhelmingly likely to decrease a person's lifespan. Doctors recommend changes in diet and (get this!) exercise as ways to combat obesity.
Phillips was obviously not living up to his responsibilities and then blaming FSU's coaches when they are understandably disappointed. If Aubrey would have worked at losing the weight, he would still be at FSU. He did not, however, and will now strain the confines of even the largest Auburn Tiger uniform.
Yet it gets worse still for Phillips, as he is claiming that had he known about FSU's probation, he would not have signed with the 'Noles. He's doing this in an attempt to skirt the NCAA's one year transfer penalty. The problem with Phillips argument, however, is that he knew about the probation. FSU went on self-imposed probation more than a year before Phillips signed, and with all the teams negatively recruiting against the 'Noles, FSU explained the probation penalty to each recruit (the 'Noles are still eligible to play for the ACC championship, National Championship, on television, and all bowls. The probation penalty is largely a warning). Phillips was on notice of the penalty before he signed and is now looking for any excuse to avoid drawing criticism for his immaturity and his actions. Hopefully the NCAA will see through his ploy and force him to sit out a year.
This is nothing more than a story of clearly stated expectations and consequences for action (or inaction), and a young man unwilling to face his mistakes. He's now Auburn's problem and will not eat a scholarship at Florida State.