ORLANDO, Fla. — It had been nearly a year, right after Virginia Tech’s January appearance in the Sugar Bowl, that fullback Joey Phillips last had a haircut. But with his football career winding down, the senior could sense the straight-laced realities of the real word fast approaching.
“I was like, you know what, I’ve got to be a real person this time next year,” he said. “I might as well do something with it.”
An “executive decision” was reached earlier this month with members of the strength staff to cut it into a mullet, a down-to-party look Phillips augmented with a horseshoe mustache.
Now, he’s part Joe Dirt, part former ’80s wrestler Magnum T.A., a quirky look that fits the fullback’s personality. He’s gone all-in, wearing different outfits that have included an American flag T-shirt, camouflage overalls and, on the second day in Orlando, a shirt airbrushed with howling wolves.
“I’m speechless every time I look at him,” running backs coach Shane Beamer said. “I’m at a loss for words, and he knows that. He scares my children when he’s walking around with that deal.”
His look is popular with his teammates, as is he. The former walk-on from Blacksburg who worked his way into a scholarship and became a two-year starter at an unheralded position was voted a permanent team captain by his teammates before the season.
I’ll be back with more later today from the head coaches’ final press conference before the bowl.