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Offer after offer made its way to Omaha (Neb.) Millard West defensive end Harrison Phillips, but when Stanford offered, the three-star's outlook on the recruiting process changed.
On Monday, Phillips announced that he had made his commitment to the Cardinal over more than 20 other schools that had made scholarship offers.
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"I have been praying a lot every night, and every morning the very first thing I thought of was Stanford University," Phillips said. "With everything they have to offer, I have officially committed to Stanford.
"It came down to Stanford, Kansas State and Nebraska. Each school has different things to offer. I am here in Nebraska, and who wouldn't want to do that? Kansas State I have had the closest relationship with, and those coaches are still close to me. Stanford has the education no other college can really beat at the Division I level."
The most difficult part of the last few days, according to Phillips, was letting the coaching staffs of the schools he did not choose know of his decision. He had a particularly long talk with Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, whom he said he holds the highest respect for.
Calling the Stanford coaches was a more enjoyable conversation, and he placed that call over the weekend.
"I talked to Coach [Marc] Mattioli, who actually offered me, because Coach [David] Shaw was on vacation in Europe and the time changes were weird," Phillips said.
"Then I called the defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach, Coach [Randy] Hart."
Long before he was even offered by the Cardinal, Phillips had mentioned Stanford as his No. 1 school of interest. At the time, though, he was not sure he was going to get noticed by its coaching staff.
"Watching them on TV, I just thought they were the coolest thing out there. It was almost like a dream at the time," Phillips said. "In the middle of my junior year, I didn't have any connection with them and didn't really think I would be that big. Then they started answering my emails, started messaging me on Facebook and came and visited me at school."
After he had accumulated more than 20 offers, Stanford finally came through with one in June after seeing him work out at its camp.
"It kind of hit me and took the breath right out of my chest," Phillips said. "I still had to evaluate everything because, even though I was so caught up about [Stanford], I didn't know if it was just a phase. In the last three weeks since I have been offered, I thought and realized it definitely is the reality I want to continue for the next chapter of my life."
The coaching staff and the feel around campus were important factors in Phillips deciding for the Cardinal, but it was the academic opportunities that most attracted the Omaha native. He plans to major in premed with a possible future course that involves physical therapy.
Many recruits feel a sense of relief upon making their college commitments, but Phillips looks back on his recruitment with a sense of appreciation for what it brought him.
"The process of seeking God for help, that's what made me a lot stronger and it made me think of the little things," Phillips said. "I am going to enjoy everything I have."
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