When 6-foot-4, 285-pound Stanford defensive lineman Harrison Phillips was little, his mother used to read him books about Horrible Harry, a little boy with a series worth of misadventures.
Eventually, high school wrestling buddies in Omaha, Nebraska, bestowed the nickname on Phillips, who insists, "I'm not that horrible of a guy."
His actions bear that out. While he missed nearly all of last season after injuring his knee in the season opener, he used that time to double down on his double major -- science, technology, and society, and sociology … oh, with an education minor.
He increased his involvement in Playmakers, a nonprofit for at-risk elementary and middle school students that focuses on academics, core values, and health and fitness. Phillips became involved through former teammate Jordan Richards in Sacramento and used his time away from football to create a chapter in his hometown, and is now on the organization's board of directors.
"Inequality has always been a pressing issue that I feel very passionate about," Phillips said.
Phillips, who has been taking 20 units per quarter, helped general assistants break down film when he couldn't practice and earned a greater understanding of offensive formations, passing plays, and blocking schemes.
"I matured in so many ways and found perseverance through trials, and joy in those trials," Phillips said.
For the second consecutive year, he left the opener with a knee injury. This time, however, an MRI revealed that the injury was not serious and Phillips returned to the field after missing just the USC game.
He excelled upon his return, against UCLA, in a physical contest, and was frustrated with the 44-6 loss at Washington on Friday.
"It was very frustrating, and kind of a blur," Phillips said. "But now having 70-80 clips of film to go back and review, we never really lost. You either win or you learn. We might have failed, but we learned 1,000 ways to improve. That's probably the biggest thing that we could take away. You have to view it in a positive light. Because if you get wrapped up in the negatives, things can come crashing down."