Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling receiver Ervin Philips.
One of the staples of former offensive coordinator Tim Lester’s playbook last season was the hybrid position, manned by Ervin Philips and Donate Strickland.
It was part running back. Part receiver. Part blocker.
A hybrid could run anything from a wheel route to a route into the flat, and on the next play, could be assigned to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
When Syracuse head coach Dino Babers arrived with his lightening fast offense, he made it abundantly clear that the hybrid position would be a thing of the past. Receivers were receivers. Running backs were running backs.
For Philips, that meant a transition from H-back to slot receiver, a position that he was focused during all of spring practices.
“Looking on the outside in, it looks simple,” Philips said during spring practice. “But when you get in there, it’s a tough position.”
Another transition for Philips has been the playbook.
“It’s more hand signals and gestures. The coach he’ll give you a hand signal, and you’ll know what to do,” Philips said. “Last year, it was more terminology. You had to learn certain words for certain plays. It’s much simpler this year.”
But as he gets more used to the offense, Philips has seen the potential for a player with his skill set.
“I like going fast and getting that step on defenders,” Philips said. “It does play into my game and gives me an advantage.”
Inside slant: In the spring game, one of Eric Dungey’s first deep throws was to Ervin Philips. That will be a new role for Philips, who was mostly used to shorter routes as an H-back. Philips is listed at the top of the depth chart for slot receiver, so expect plenty of production from him this year.
- Birthdate: January 1995
- Hometown: West Haven, Conn
- High School: West Haven
- Position: Receiver
- Class: Junior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 180 lbs
Career highlights: In his sophomore season, Philips led Syracuse with eight total touchdowns (3 rushing, 5 receiving) and finished second on the club with 48 points.
Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.
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