Last Saturday was a loss for the Rattlers but there were still many highlights in the game. One of those highlights was freshman running back Philip Sylvester.
Yes, he is only a freshman. However, with one NCAA game under his belt he already has 101 yards rushing on 14 carries, 40 yards passing and two touchdowns under in the bank. His longest rush was for 45 yards, while averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Sylvester also recorded four kickoff returns for 84 yards.
This stellar debut earned him top rookie honors. Tuesday afternoon he was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ‘Rookie of the Week’ by the league office. Coach Rubin Carter said Sylvester’s performance in the MEAC/ SWAC challenge on Saturday was not expected, “It was a breakout day for Phillip he ran the ball with authority and showed versatility on special teams, it was a pleasant surprise.”
Sylvester admits that he too was surprised by his performance. “I really didn’t expect to catch that many balls, it was a surprise.” When Sylvester met the end zone Saturday for his first time on a collegiate level he was still nervous. On his next touchdown he was nervous and as he goes through the season, that is something that is unlikely to change.
“I will probably feel nervous every game. I will always feel nervous, that’s just how I am.”
It was at the age of seven that Sylvester first picked up a football. And, it was a couple of years later during his years at Mere Recreation Center in Mariana, Fla. that he would not only pick up the football but learn to carry it.
He then entered Mariana High School where he stacked up many stats in not just football but also track. Sylvester won a silver medal at the 2007 State of Florida Track Meet. His 4.2 speed will keep Rattler opponents on their toes all season. Sylvester left Mariana High School in the spring of 2007 with many offers including Ãlan, Alabama State, and Eastern Michigan just to name a few, but chose to make his mark in football here on The Hill.
Making the transition from high school football to college took some getting used to. “College football is a lot more tiring, we are always lifting weights, watching film and having meetings,” said Sylvester.
He does have time however to study and focus on what he is really here to do–to get an education. He wants to leave FAMU with a degree in civil engineering and says that football after college is not necessarily a career goal. “Everybody wants to play in the NFL but that’s not my top priority.”
Throughout the interview Sylvester had a shy and humble demeanor and describes himself as quiet most of the time and someone who loves God. He attends Bethel Baptist Church here in Tallahassee and has strong family values and a very strong upbringing. Sylvester’s parents play a big role in his life and both his mother and father can be seen at all games waving orange and green pom-poms cheering on their youngest son. Sylvester also has a 12-year-old sister and a 21-year-old brother.
Although he admits he is quiet, and he gets nervous, he is still ready for the game on Saturday. For his first home game at Bragg Stadium, wearing the orange and green, none of that quietness or shyness will be seen. He will correct all errors made against Southern and so will the team. “We should play better this game, we will have more confidence. All we need is to become unified and correct mistakes and mental errors.”
When asked other questions, one answer stood out that showed he had true heart that he plays not only for himself, his family, his team, and Coach Carter, but FAMU as a whole. When asked if he could tell the Rattler football fans anything his response was, “We are ready to bring this championship back to FAMU.” Phillip Sylvester said it’s been since 2001 since we have had the championship, the school is ready, and we will be waiting.