SCOOBA – For the second time in four years, East Mississippi Community College had a pair of players selected in the NFL Draft. Former EMCC and Mississippi State teammates Tyre Phillips and Brian Cole II had their names called during this week's three-day virtual professional football draft.
Phillips was chosen in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens as the 106th pick overall, while Cole was picked by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round as the 249th overall selection.
Phillips and Cole will now begin their respective professional football careers after spending the past four years as college teammates. Both players were tabbed NJCAA All-Region 23 and MACJC All-State First Team in helping lead Coach Buddy Stephens' 2016 EMCC Lions to the MACJC Championship and No. 2 season-ending national ranking with an 11-1 record. They then redshirted the 2017 season at MSU before emerging as senior starters for the Bulldogs this past year.
With this year's pair of NFL Draft selections, the five-time NJCAA champion EMCC Lions have now had eight players chosen in the National Football League's annual draft during the last eight years.
In becoming the first EMCC offensive lineman drafted during the Stephens era, Phillips ranks as the Lions' highest draftee since Seattle Seahawks starting defensive tackle Jarran Reed was chosen in the second round (49th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama.
With Cole's selection, six of EMCC's eight overall draftees dating back to the 2013 NFL Draft have been defensive players. Last year, current Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Dakota Allen was picked in the seventh round (251st overall) by the Los Angeles Rams.
Phillips, a product of Grenada High School, helped lead the EMCC Lions to a two-year composite record of 19-2 overall and 12-0 mark in division play with back-to-back MACJC North Division regular-season titles and consecutive top-10 NJCAA final rankings in 2015 and 2016.
This past season as a senior at Mississippi State, the 6-foot-5, 345-pound Phillips developed into one of the best tackles in the SEC as a 13-game starter at left tackle. The 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl participant played a team-high 821 snaps for the Bulldogs while allowing just two sacks and only one quarterback hit across 398 snaps in pass protection.
Away from the gridiron, Phillips was recognized on the National Football Foundation (NFF) Hampshire Honor Society for his outstanding performance in the classroom. As a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, he graduated this past December with a degree in human development and family sciences.
Cole, a product of Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan, transferred to EMCC from the University of Michigan. He had an immediate impact on special teams with three blocked kicks during the Lions' 2016 state championship season. He led EMCC's defensive backs with 54 tackles along with recording three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries that were returned for 71 total yards.
After sitting out his first year at MSU, Cole registered 78 career tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss with three quarterback sacks, two pass interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 17 career games played. As a 12-game starter and 2019 team captain, Cole ranked as the Bulldogs' third-leading tackler with 65 total stops this past season, including 7.5 tackles for loss with two sacks.
A 2019 graduate with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cole capped his college career as a 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl participant.
The EMCC Lions previously had two players chosen in the 2017 NFL Draft. Defensive lineman D.J. Jones, of the reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers (6th round; 198th overall), and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chad Kelly (7th round; 253rd overall by Denver Broncos as NFL's "Mr. Irrelevant") were both selected out of Ole Miss.
Prior to that, three former EMCC defensive linemen who also starred at SEC member schools were picked in the NFL Draft. Along with Reed going in the second round to the Seahawks in 2016, Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl participant Za'Darius Smith, out of the University of Kentucky, went in the fourth round (122nd overall) to the Baltimore Ravens in 2015.
EMCC's string of NFL draftees during the Stephens era was kicked off by now-retired NFL veteran Quinton Dial, who was a fifth-round selection (157th overall) of the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 after being a member of two BCS national championship teams with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Contact: David Rosinski, EMCC Sports Information Director