The Catalyst

Horrible Harry Heads to Buffalo

photo+illustration+by+Jack+Ward
photo illustration by Jack Ward

photo illustration by Jack Ward

photo illustration by Jack Ward

Andrew Pfeifer, Staff Writer

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Hands held over his head, the 300lb Harrison Phillips trembled as held the phone to his ear. He knew his life was about to take a turn. He waits. His name was about to be called in front of millions. A once small child’s dream becoming reality.

Family around him were filled with joy and tension but all of Phillip’s focus still remained on the television, shutting out the world around him.

A man notoriously known in Buffalo, Erza Castro, also known as “Pancho Billa,” appeared on the stage. He was covered head to toe in Bill’s attire. After recently being diagnosed with cancer, it was now his responsibility to announce the next pick for his favorite team.

“And with the 96th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, our Buffalo Bills select… Harrison Phillips, defensive tackle, Stanford!”

An emotional pick indeed, rang out for all of Buffalo to hear as the word is now out. Horrible Harry is now on his way to playing professional football. All of the hard work is paid off, but bigger challenges await.

“After getting off the phone, they read my name and it was definitely the highs of highs,” Phillips said. “It was a very emotional experience with so much anxiety, nerves, frustration, happiness, I feel very blessed to be in this position.”

With new challenges at the doorstep, it is time to go to work. Tough competition hasn’t stopped Phillips in the past. In his career at Millard West, Phillips was a two time All-State defensive end as well as three time State Wrestling Champion. He also earned the title of Gatorade Player of the Year and Nebraska Athlete of the Year.

His fame only grew as he carved his path for a successful career at Stanford University. In 2017, he led all FBS linemen with 103 tackles and earned All Pac-12 First Team and Pac- 12 All-Academic First Team honors. He was also invited to play in the 2018 Senior Bowl.  

From leaving Millard West as a Wildcat wonder, to a Stanford standout and now a profound professional, Harrison has found is route for success.  

After gaining national attention, Phillips was soon contacted by his position coach, who immediately piled him with play installs and film from the previous season.  

 “This year is the most important year of my NFL career,” Phillips said. “You have to learn the most and go the fastest.”

Phillips left for Buffalo this past Wednesday to meet his new team. There; he will partake in team practices, camps and workouts until the fall season. Although his daily routine is busy with constant training and press conferences, a busy schedule is nothing new to Harrison.

A day in the life for Phillips consists of waking up bright and early at 8:00 a.m. for practice, then immediately heading to the gym to lift for about two hours. Then he would run agilities with three of his teammates until he would run himself sick.  
After running, Phillips took a couple hours to rest and eat before heading back to the gym to lift for a second time. His day concluded by getting a solid 8-9 hours of sleep, all just to repeat the process the next day. It is without a doubt that his dedication set him up for success.

“I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today if I didn’t sacrifice a lot of things,” Phillips said. “If you have the goals you really want to accomplish, you can.”

The years he sacrificed, turned to dollar signs.

When you’re selected to be a part of one of the largest sports organizations in the world, it comes with a little bit of cash. But only for the ones who are willing to work for it and put in the time.

Phillips did just that.

Now that his career is just beginning, Phillips holds high standards for himself entering into the league, a working mentality that will help him accomplish life long dreams. That, having a long 12-15 year career, a Pro Bowl and a spot for him along with the greats in Canton, Ohio (the hall of fame ballot).

The rookie understands that achieving these goals will require tremendous amount of hard work and taking things one baby step at a time.

“I feel like I’ve gotten to where I am today with really high goals,” Phillips stated. “If you reach for the stars and only get the clouds, you are still higher than everybody else.”

Phillips is the second player from Millard West to enter into the NFL (alongside Matt Longacre- LA Rams, who graduated from Millard West in 2010) but he’s the first to ever be drafted. He was extremely humbled by his accomplishments as he has the ambition to give more future stars from Millard West an opportunity by creating national exposure.  

Phillips is more than excited to be the first Wildcat drafted, but he hopes he is not the last.

“One of the most rewarding things about high school is that I was recruited by so many schools that now keep coming back,” Phillips said. “So now a lot of D1 coaches have relations with the head coaches here at Millard West.”

For all the young high school football players or for those who are playing for Millard West feeder teams, Harrison has got your back all the way from Buffalo. By drawing the attention from bigger schools, athletes have a chance of a lifetime to prove themselves worthy of being a world class athlete, and a better person. And maybe one day, their name will be called, too. Just like Harrison.

It is without a doubt that Phillip’s rookie season will be a thrill to watch. As people notice the new Buffalo Bill play on TV, they’ll remember a former Wildcat who is ready to make a name for himself.

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