There is no one correct path to the NFL. New Bills LB Del’Shawn Phillips is proof of that. Originally a Western Michigan commit out of high school, he was academically ineligible which led to Phillips attending Garden City Community College for 2 seasons before transferring to the University of Illinois, playing for 2 seasons before finally getting his shot at the pros.
For someone like Phillips, who was already behind the eight ball coming out, any injury or set back could have meant the end of his dream before it even started. Below is his known injury history from college and NFL.
2015-2016 Garden City Community College:
He played two years for the team, helping them win a national title in 2016, but outside of that, no information can be found regarding injuries or games played. According to the media guide, Phillips was All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2015 and First Team All-Conference during his time in Kansas before moving onto Illinois.
Upon arriving at Illinois, Phillips began playing spring ball, suffering an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the spring semester as he transitioned to Big Ten football. Outside of reporting that he had an ankle injury, it is not known about what type of injury, which side, and if surgery was required.
Looking at his Twitter profile, he acknowledges missed time, possibly a month due to the previous picture post. This could indicate that he suffered some type of sprain, but that is only speculative.
Thankfully, he had the summer to recover and ended up playing in 11 of 12 games, missing only the Minnesota game with a shoulder injury. Like the ankle, little is known other than the fact that he suffered the injury. He was able to come back the following week indicating that it was likely minor.
Appeared in all 12 games with no reported injuries. Due to his availability, he ended up leading the team in interceptions with 4 and tied for the team lead in tackles with 95. This culminated in All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors from the media and an Academic All-Big Ten nod.
Signed as a UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons before getting cut at the end of the preseason. Phillips later signed with the Bills practice squad in late October of that year before getting re-signed to a reserve deal following the season.
Bills Injury Impact:
Like many other UDFA’s, Phillips has to show he’s worth keeping around. He has a handful of guys to beat out to even get a shot as a depth option on the 53-man roster. He will likely find a home yet again on the practice squad with the possibility to even play now that the rules have changed with regards to the number of players allowed and the ability to call up two players on game day without having to pass through waivers.
The lack of injuries for Phillips over the past 3 years bodes well for the possibility to make the team but is far from a guarantee. He will have to have some luck and supreme play in the preseason in order to warrant a roster spot.