Phillipi, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, chose the Lobos over Navy and UNLV, his hometown school.
“It was a tough decision,” Phillipi told the Las Vegas Sun. “I really like the coaches at UNLV. They did a great job recruiting me. I just want to leave Las Vegas.”
Rick Wright features two brothers who have committed to play for UNM. They’ll be the first identical twins for the Lobos since the late 1960s.
Phillipi joins Bishop Gorman teammate Ron Scoggins Jr., an offensive lineman, in committing to New Mexico.
Phillipi was a second-team All-State selection last season. He had 59 tackles, six sacks and 11 pass breakups, and has run a 4.64 40-yard dash.
TWITTY COMMITMENT: New Jersey defensive lineman Dominic Twitty has orally committed to UNM, his high school coach confirmed.
Twitty, 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, was a first-team All-Conference and All-County defensive end at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, N.J.
Rancocas Valley coach Dan Haussman said Twitty had 54 tackles last season.
“He was a big run-stopper,” Haussman said via email, “with the ability to cover the flat in pass responsibility.”
Unofficially, with signing day looming Wednesday, the Lobos have 18 commitments. That total includes two junior college players who already have signed letters of intent and two freshmen who are unsigned but enrolled for the spring semester.
Of those 18 players, only two – Twitty and Chicago-area running back-linebacker Anthony Messina, the brother of former Lobos star Carmen Messina – hail from east of the Mississippi River. That’s a dramatic departure from the strategy of former coach Mike Locksley, who recruited heavily in Florida and in the Maryland-Washington, D.C. area.
New coach Bob Davie has said he prefers to recruit close to home.
Football Bowl Subdivision programs are allowed to sign 25 players each year.
Oral commitments are nonbinding.
MESSINA UPDATE: Carmen Messina, whose highly decorated UNM career ended last month, says his participation in the Jan. 16 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game was well worth the trip to Tucson.
“It was a great opportunity to play with some of the best players from around the country,” Messina said from Atlanta, where he’s training for UNM’s coming Pro Day. “And I got to talk to a lot of (NFL) teams, so it was a great experience.”
Personnel evaluators from virtually every NFL team were present in Tucson, he said.
Messina is training in Atlanta at the Paul Doyle Sports Performance Center.
Because of the coaching transition at UNM, he said, he’s unsure of the dates for UNM’s Pro Day or who on the new coaching staff will be coordinating it.
“I’m expecting it to be sometime in early March,” he said.
The NFL Draft is scheduled April 26-28. Online sources vary greatly regarding Messina’s draft prospects – projecting anywhere from the third round to going undrafted.
As for the all-star game itself, Messina had four tackles – one solo, three assisted – as his Stripes team (West) defeated the Stars (East) 24-21.
“I had to rotate with two other linebacker groups,” he said, “so the stats weren’t gonna be the same as normal. But I was able to go out there and make some plays.”
Messina led the Mountain West Conference in tackles three years in a row and was the nation’s leader as a sophomore.
ALL-ACADEMIC: Six Lobo football players are members of the Mountain West All-Academic Team for the fall semester, with grade-point averages of 3.0 or better.
They are: kicker Justus Adams, 3.61 in business administration; center LaMar Bratton, 3.03, major undeclared; defensive end Joseph Harris, 3.25 in interdisciplinary film and digital media; safety Matt Raymer, 3.41 in civil engineering; tight end Lucas Reed, 3.01 in university studies; and long snapper Evan Jacobsen, 3.27 in history.
— This article appeared on page D7 of the Albuquerque Journal