Clemson defensive back Jalyn Phillips called his start against Miami Saturday a "blessing."
"I found out earlier in the week there was a tweek with Joseph (Charleston) and the coaches let me know I had the opportunity to start," Phillips said Monday in a meeting with the media. "I just wanted to be consistent in practice and show our coaches I was ready to take advantage of the opportunity."
Phillips finished the game with five tackles including a half tackle for loss and a pass break up as the top-ranked Tigers defeated Miami 42-17.
"It's always a challenge," Phillips said. "I don't really get into critics, but hearing people say this defense could be suspect losing three of their top DBs, it was definitely a challenge for us coming in and replacing those talented guys."
Phillips said defensive coordinator Brent Venables defense can be complex, but credited a year in the playbook and the example set by former and current players such as K'Von Wallace, Tanner Muse and Nolan Turner.
"I'm just comfortable with whatever coach needs me to," Phillips said. "He could ask me to play dime this week or free safety, I'm just going to learn that game plan the best I can do. I think it's good that they got me moving around a little bit, to show my versatility. I feel like that's a blessing as well, that the coaches trust me to play multiple positions."
Phillips, who played at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., said it will be special to play in Atlanta Saturday, just 45 minutes from where he grew up.
"I know a couple of guys on the Georgia Tech team. Jamious Griffin (running back), Malachi Carter came from Mountain View (H.S.). I'm real cool with those guys," Phillips said. "I'm glad to get the opportunity to play in Atlanta for one of the first times, definitely a big opportunity."