Philippi No Stranger To Rebel Park|
April 10, 2013
By Mick Akers for UNLV Media Relations
Returning to the field where he grew up playing around on as a kid, it's now anything but fun and games for redshirt freshman Marc Philippi as he fights for playing time in spring practice, which ends with Friday's Spring Showcase kicking off at 5:30 p.m. at Rebel Park.
Philippi's father, Mark Philippi, was the athletic department's strength and condition coach from 1993-2005 and Marc was a fixture on the field during much of that time, running around as the Rebels did their thing on the practice field. Now that he is one of the college football players like those he used to watch as a kid, Philippi says his past with the team makes him feel at home.
"It's the only college football team that I've really known," Philippi said. "I've been out there since I was a little kid, so I feel really comfortable with the environment and I'm happy to be a Rebel."
Philippi almost didn't make UNLV his alma mater, as he and his Bishop Gorman High School teammate, Ron Scoggins Jr., both committed to New Mexico after a recruiting visit. On signing day in 2012 both Philippi and Scoggins had a change of heart and chose the Rebels instead.
"It wasn't really a joint switch. We both went on the trip to New Mexico and liked it, but we both had our individual reasons to stay home. Mine was family and the coaching staff here and I'm glad I made the choice. After we de-committed we both found out we had made the same decision."
Redshirting during the 2012 season with a foot injury, Philippi didn't let sitting out his freshman year impact him in a negative way.
"Some people don't want to redshirt or look negatively on it, but I used my redshirt year to the fullest. I was recovering from a foot injury so I got my legs back under me and I learned the defense. I learned how to play college football --the difference between high school and college speed -- and did what I could on the scout team."
Sitting on the sidelines, watching Scoggins Jr. play -- and even start -- on the offensive line in his rookie season was tough for Philippi, but he was excited to see his high school friend have an immediate impact on the field.
"From a competitive stand point it is (frustrating). I was happy for him and I have been friends with him since high school and he was having a great season. He's playing a different position (than Philippi), so it wasn't like we were competing for the same spot, but I was happy to see him go out there and play and represent our high school."
Philippi has used his first set of spring practices to hone his skills now that he is healthy and ready to be a contributing member of the defensive squad as he vies for playing time at the safety position.
"I've really improved as a football player. It's just good to be out on the field again seeing the ones and the twos and I'm just trying to get better each day," Philippi said. "I'm working on coverage and tackling right now. Those are the two things I really need to improve on."
After enjoying much success at the high school level with national powerhouse Bishop Gorman, winning three state titles and ending up ranked fifth in the country during his senior campaign in 2011, Philippi will play for a UNLV team that has won two games in each of the last three years. However, he said he feels the Rebels are set for a successful 2013 season.
"I believe we're going to win some games this season. The attitude around here is the first priority is to win games. I think we have great new coaches here and a great system, I believe in my teammates and I think we're going to have a successful season."