Ruston High School Senior Kicker/Punter Caleb Phillips Now Showing What He Can Do In The Clutch
by Jace LeJeune
One of the best four year starters at his position in North Louisiana is Ruston High School senior kicker/punter Caleb Phillips. However, being one of the best kicking specialists in the state did not always start that way.
“My first ever punt I actually punted 20 yards backwards, and now I am best at punting,” Phillips said.
Like anyone else, it takes a lot of dedication and practice to perfect a craft, and it is no different for the versatile 6-3, 195 pound Ruston High School kicker.
“For kicking, the thing I am always working on is perfecting my technique and becoming more and more consistent,” Phillips said.
Transitioning from playing soccer to football has made it easier for him to improve on all areas of his game.
“I developed my leg speed and strength through soccer,” Phillips said. “Also, learning how to hit the ball in which it creates the best kick is important, and I learned that in soccer.”
When Ruston needed a kicker and a punter, Phillips stepped up to do both roles, which is uncommon for a freshman. That experience gained as a freshman has led to an unbelievable career garnering 1st Team All-District and Shreveport Times honors during his prep career. Just as incredible as his growth on the football field has been is his improvement in the classroom.
“In my career, the consistent growth in my kicking, academics, and my personal life have been super exciting,” Phillips said. “Being able to work to get better every single day is always fun, and I get to see the growth day by day.”
After continuing to improve as a kicker and as a punter, there was another facet to his game that would be tested. Unlike trying to pass the test of being able to get his punts and attempted kicks on a consistent basis, Phillips had another opportunity to show what he could do, but this time as a senior. In a big Week 2 matchup between the Ruston Bearcats and the Neville Tigers, Phillips had the chance to be a hero and win the game for his team in triple overtime. Just like it has been over his career, Phillips proved that he could pass the test in the clutch.
“It was my first game winner this year,” I’ve had only one other situation that big, and it was my sophomore year so I was pretty nervous at the time. However, I knew that I had what it took to make it and that my snapper, holder, and blockers would do their jobs so that I could do mine.”
Despite Phillips being able to kick game winning field goals and have a range up between 38 to 57 yards as a kicker, it is his punting skills where he feels most comfortable.
“I enjoy all of it but punting is my favorite,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot less pressure and it’s not just hit or miss. There are levels in which I can always do better every single kick. My hang time and distance on my punts and putting the ball in the end zone on kickoff are my biggest strengths.”
Watching the New Orleans Saints special teams unit has also helped Phillips in his development.
“I love watching the Saints special teams,” Phillips said. “Wil Lutz and Thomas Morstead are phenomenal at what they do. I love watching how consistent Morstead is, and how clutch Wil Lutz is.
Because of his dual threat ability both kicking and punting, there have been some schools that have shown interest in Phillips.
“My top schools are probably Baylor, Arkansas, and Louisiana Tech,” Phillips said. “Arkansas sent me a few letters this summer, and Louisiana Tech has sent me a few more this season.”
Although Phillips would love to continue to kick as well as punt for a college football team, he is more concerned with getting a really good education.
“Academics are very important to me as well,” Phillips said. “I want to study Chemical Engineering or Chemistry and possibly go into the medical field or some kind of engineering or science field.”
However, right now, the Ruston four year starter is just trying to enjoy his senior season.
“This season has been a lot of fun,” Phillips said. “There have been ups and downs, and it has been crazy, but our team has grown together day by day and worked to be at the top of our game. We need to keep working as a team, and if we keep working and perfecting the little mistakes in every area, we could be a great team.”
The Ruston two sport athlete is also busy when not playing sports or in school as he is also in his church’s youth band, thus solidifying his reputation as an all-around student athlete.
“I am a hard worker,” Phillips said. “I can do what I need to in the classroom, and on the field I will earn everything I can. If I am beat out for a spot, I’m not a sore loser, but I will work to earn it back. If I earn a spot, I will continue to work to be the best at it that I can.”
Whether it is singing and playing piano in his church’s youth band or kicking game winning field goals as well as booming 50 yard punts, Caleb Phillips continues to impress.
Click the link below to check out Caleb Phillips’ junior highlights:
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Jace is from Addis, LA but resides in Port Allen, LA. Jace attends Southeastern Louisiana University and is majoring in Communications. This is Jace’s fourth year as Associate Editor at Louisiana Football Magazine. He is also a graduate from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge where he was the editor of the school newspaper the “Bearly Published.” While at CHS, Jace also announced their football, basketball, and baseball games for the Bruin Broadcast Network which is the Catholic High’s streaming website for their events. On weekends, Jace is the PA announcer for his middle school football games. At home, Jace enjoys time with his family and friends. Besides being a huge football fan, Jace is also an avid NHRA drag racing fan.