convention in town

Houston receivers coach
Jason Phillips played under
June Jones in the NFL

The run-and-shoot offense has varying levels of fanatics among its devotees.

Tiger Ellison, Mouse Davis and June Jones are the holy trinity.

Count Jason Phillips among the true believers. He's non-practicing now, but the Houston Cougars receivers coach still considers himself a disciple of an offense some consider past its time.

"I believe there's still a place for it," Phillips said. "No way can I speak ill of an offense that let me play in college and the pros. The problem is a lot of people are not willing to do what it takes to do it right. It's definitely not passé in Division I football. June's done a great job. There just are not enough coaches with the knowledge. There's a lot more to it than just running out for passes."

Phillips knows of what he speaks. Playing for the Cougars, he was the nation's leading receiver for two years and in 1988 a consensus All-American when the run-and-shoot was at its glorious peak.

Despite his gaudy numbers as a target of future Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware, Phillips was unsure of his future after college.

"At 5-8 and 165 pounds, I was not on the typical wish list for an NFL receiver," Phillips said.

Only one NFL coaching staff felt Phillips draft-worthy. That would be the Detroit Lions, with the guys with the funny first names running the "Silver Streak."

"I was excited to join June and Mouse at the Lions. I was familiar with their system and I could run," Phillips said.

In 1991, Jones went to Atlanta, and he took Phillips with him.

"He was great. Like Chad Owens," Jones said. "He was the hardest worker I ever had. Paid attention to detail, a great kid. And tough."

Jones isn't surprised Phillips became a coach.

"I knew he was that kind of kid. He was a hard worker and conscientious," Jones said. "That combination tends to produce coaches."

Phillips was one of the first people Cougars first-year head coach Art Briles went looking for when building his staff.

"He's doing a great job for us. He's way ahead of his time, since he's only been coaching two or three years," Briles said. "He's doing a great job of teaching our guys the intricacies of being a complete player. Not just catching the ball, but blocking and understanding coverages, being intelligent. He's a great asset to our staff."

Phillips and Jones remain in touch.

"Playing six years for June, I learned a lot about how to be detail-oriented. About studying defenses, tendencies," Phillips said.

Phillips said his memories of his 1988 visit to Hawaii as a Houston player are good ones, except for the result of the Aloha Bowl, a 24-22 loss to Washington State.

"I remember enjoying the beach, the bowl festivities, the Pearl Harbor tour. Luau dinner," he said. "Then a little jaw jerking over who are the real Cougars."

This Christmas, Phillips will help Houston try to be the "real UH."

"Yes, there's some similarity," he said.


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