KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee hosted its annual Pro Day on Thursday morning with a group of draft-eligible Vols showcasing their talents in front of NFL scouts and executives.
There were a total of 12 UT athletes participating in workouts throughout the day: Micah Abernathy, Paul Bain, Keller Chryst, Malik Elion, D.J. Henderson, Alexis Johnson Jr., Jonathon Kongbo, Madre London, Jesse Medford, Kyle Phillips, Quart’e Sapp and Shy Tuttle.
The day started by the athletes getting their height and weight recorded. Shortly after, they performed on the bench press and took part in the vertical jump.
After performing in the weight room, players competed in the broad jump, 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, 60-yard shuttle and a 3-cone drill. The day ended with position specific drills for the scouts in attendance.
Phillips Taking Advantage of Opportunities
Kyle Phillips wrapped up his Vol career on Thursday morning at Tennessee’s indoor practice facility. The Nashville native, who collected 114 tackles, eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss in his four-year career, showed scouts his abilities one last time at Tennessee’s 2019 Pro Day.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to get more exposure,” Phillips said. “Last week, I went to a regional combine and all 32 teams were there. It’s about getting as many eyes on you as possible.”
Phillips assembled his best season with the Vols in 2018, posting a career-high in tackles (56), sacks (5), TFL (8), and notched a forced fumble while also recovering one fumble.
The 2018 Piesman Trophy winner, which is presented by SB Nation to ‘a defensive lineman who can do something truly special with the ball in their hands,’ flourished in his final year at UT under head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“This coaching staff did a great job preparing us for these things,” Phillips said. “Just by doing some of these drills during summer workouts, putting them in practice. That’s always good to have these kind of drills engrained into you.”
To earn the Piesman Trophy, Phillips cut off a screen pass against Alabama and intercepted the ball, returning it 27 yards for a touchdown. The versatile lineman also registered four pass breakups and one blocked kick on the year.
The trophy wasn’t his lone one at UT, as Philips also collected the Bill Majors Award and Defensive Player of the Year at the year-end team banquet.
Phillips continued to show up in Tennessee’s biggest games of the year. In upsets over No. 21 Auburn and No. 11 Kentucky, he logged a combined 15 tackles, one TFL and forced a fumble that resulted in a touchdown against the Tigers.
Among other awards Philips collected in his four-year career at UT were three SEC Academic Honor Roll honors. Philips was also a member of the second VOLeader Academy Class in 2017.
As impressive as a career as he had at UT, Phillips is now looking forward to living out a childhood dream.
“Growing up, most of us always dreamed of playing in the NFL,” Philips said. “I’ve seen other guys go through this process, and the fact that now it’s me, it happens really fast. Time really does fly by.”
Tuttle Ready to Compete at the Next Level
Shy Tuttle’s Tennessee career concluded on the indoor practice field on Thursday morning, showing out for NFL scouts.
“It’s a good feeling,” Tuttle said. “We’ve been training for eight months. Some of us longer than that. I’m finally getting it out of the way. I feel I came out and competed well.”
In his lone season in Pruitt’s system, Tuttle started all 12 games and received the “Trenches Award” at the year-end banquet. The Midway, N.C., native posted career-highs in tackles (33), TFL (2.5), and recorded his first sack and interception in 2018.
The 300-pound lineman also showed off his versatility on special teams, blocking two FG attempts and a PAT in his career.
One of his blocked kicks came in an upset win over No. 11 Kentucky this season while also registering three tackles.
Over his time at Tennessee, Tuttle finished with 79 tackles, one sack, three fumble recoveries and one interception. Fighting injuries for the majority of his period at UT, he flourished in his final season – playing and starting in every game for the first time in his career.
After finishing his career with the Vols, he has now shifted his focus to playing at the next level.
“I’m trying to lean up my body and get in the best shape as possible,” Tuttle said. “Eating right, training and skills training. I didn’t do much football specifically; I just ran a lot. I weigh 290 right now. I’ve trimmed a bunch of fat.”
Tuttle was a participant of the 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January.