NORMAN — Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was having a breakout season last year before a progressive back injury ended his season after just four games.
Phillips is back at 100 percent, he says, though coaches have managed his time in practices through the first week.
Earlier this week, Phillips talked at length for the first time since returning.
What was it like going through the injury last season?
At first it was a little rough because I feel like I was having a good year and I could’ve done a lot of good things. It was hard going down but it was a good learning process and it really humbled me a lot.
What was it? It was a progressive injury?
Yeah. I don’t want to go into any details but yeah, that’s pretty much what it was. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Was it pretty painful?
Yeah. But they took good precautions. I just couldn’t take it anymore so I had to get it done.
Did you worry your career was over?
Yeah. But after camp started, or I guess after I started back in summer workouts, everything seemed good and I didn’t have any pain so I knew everything would be OK.
Do you know you’re ready even with the limits in practice?
I’ve been letting it go. It’s just a precaution thing. Everybody just wants to make sure I make it through the season and everything. But I’m back to 100 percent so it’s good.
Before the injury, you were having a heck of a season.
Coach (Jerry) Montgomery really helped me out. He just said the right things to me and really just everything clicked once we talked. He’s a lot younger and he’s a lot more understanding. He’s played the position and he’s not far out of it so he still knows what we go through and what really works. It’s what he used to do. It just makes a lot more sense because he actually went through it and knows what’s possible and what’s impossible.
Did that success catch you off guard?
No. I felt like they put me in a position to be successful. That’s what they wanted me to do and for those four games I was able to do it.
Done any backflips lately?
No. I haven’t done any of those. I’m just scared to do one. I did a couple last year before I got hurt.
What’s the rehab been like?
It was a grind for sure. I put on about 20 pounds so it was a process getting that back off. I’d say everything else went good. I was still running good and everything, it was just getting my wind back and being able to play again.
Did you know after the Notre Dame game that your season was done?
That was the most pain I’ve ever been in. That was a really physical game for me. I thought this is gonna pass, but it never did. TCU was the next game and I was feeling good and we figured by Saturday I would be able to play. It loosened up a lot, but I still wasn’t ready I guess. Going into Texas, it was the same thing. I would get better during the week and at the end of the week it would go back to being real bad. After that I was like, ‘This is it.’
Are you glad to have the medical redshirt for last year?
I’m very thankful that I’ve got it, but I’m hoping that I don’t need it.