"Going into the game, I was obviously a little nervous," said Phillips, the Utes freshman kicker. "There was a lot of pressure to perform well."
"I was bragging on Andy through fall camp, but with an asterisk because he had never kicked in a game yet," said head coach Kyle Whittingham.
Phillips knows all about pressure, just not on the football field, but rather on the mountain. Phillips, who grew up in Sandy, learned to ski when he was two years old. It became his life's passion and he eventually became good enough to become an alpine racer on the U.S. Ski Team where he competed from 2007-2011.
"I've skied my whole life," said Phillips. "I've been racing since I was five, so that was kind of my life before football. Everything I did, school, training, revolved around that."
Phillips attended Winter Sports School in Park City, a school dedicated to elite winter sports athletes. At one point, he was ranked second in the world as a junior racer. But after going through some financial hardships, Phillips decided to give up professional skiing two years ago and go back to school. One day while messing around with his brothers, he gave kicking a shot.
"I started kicking some field goals with my brothers," Phillips recalled. "My family is a huge soccer family, so we were just trying to kick farther and farther field goals, and I beat them out. Then it just kind of all happened. I sent some film into Coach [Jay] Hill. He brought me in here and gave me a shot."
Phillips won the kicking job in training camp, and in his very first game against Utah State, he was brilliant. Phillips made all three of his field goal attempts from 45, 19 and 38 yards. He converted all three extra points, and in the biggest play of the game, executed an onside kick to perfection.
"I was so pumped up from making my field goal that when [Coach Whittingham] said we're going for it, I was like, 'Alright, here we go. Let's turn this thing around.' It had been executed perfectly all week and I felt real comfortable with it. It was a once in a lifetime kind of feeling. It was unbelievable."
Karl Williams eventually recovered the kick, leading to the go-ahead touchdown as Utah came from behind to beat the Aggies, 30-26. Phillips was the unlikely hero, earning the game ball.
"For a kid that had never played in a football game at any level," said Whittingham. "He had been a skier and a soccer player, he had phenomenal poise and mental toughness."
Phillips is extremely tough. He has broken bones all over his body from his ski racing days. But Phillips says his racing experience has helped him as a kicker, at least mentally.
"Ski racing is kind of like football in that you train for hours and hours, and you get one shot," Phillips said. "I've had a lot of training to where I can focus in on the task at hand."
From national skiing star to Utes kicking hero, it has been quite a journey for Andy Phillips, and he is just starting to shred on the gridiron.
"If you would have asked me two and a half years ago if this is where I'd be, I would have called you crazy," Phillips said. "I didn't ever see this as my path."