Aug. 23, 2010
6:18 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — As Colter Phillips copes with the loss of his father, Mike London has made a point of reminding UVa’s other football players to reach out to family members and to not take relationships for granted.

“All the time,” London said before practice Monday. “I just tell these guys all the time, ‘If you got a beef with a family member, you’ve got to make it right. Because you just don’t know when you’re going to have an opportunity to make it right. And really, when everything else is going on, the thing that can hold you together is family. Call your family members, tell them you love them, tell them you appreciate them and all those things.’

“So these guys get it. They probably get tired of hearing it, but I believe that. I believe in relationships, families and friends and being close.”

His players have “done nice job [of showing support],” London said, “not just with Colter, but with other guys. The freshmen, when they got here, they were homesick, and [the veterans] had to put an arm around them, and all those things.”

Phillips, a sophomore tight end from Potomac, Md., rejoined the team over the weekend after about 10 days away from Charlottesville. His father, Bill Phillips, was killed Aug. 9 in a plane crash in Alaska. Survivors included Willy Phillips, 13, the youngest of Colter’s three brothers.

About 60 people from UVa, including London and many of Colter’s teammates, attended Mr. Phillips’ funeral Friday in Potomac, Md.

“It was very emotional, very moving,” London said. “It was one of those things that you never forget, about how much people thought about his father, about Bill Phillips the person, the friend, the lawyer, the lobbyist, all those things, but also the humanitarian part. And then to have the three [oldest] brothers stand up and tell about what their dad meant to them, it was very moving.”

As a redshirt freshman in 2009, Phillips started six games and caught five passes for 34 yards. He didn’t play in UVa’s scrimmage Saturday, but he lifted with the team Monday morning and was back in full pads Monday afternoon.

“I think he’s looking to get back into this thing, full speed, 100 percent, and get ready to play,” London said. “Whatever we put in, Colter’s bright enough that from the mental on-the-page aspect, he’ll be able to [grasp it]. Now he’s got to go out physically and do it.”

* Before they lifted weights Monday morning, the Wahoos met with Teresa Sullivan at the McCue Center.

UVa’s new president has worked at Texas and Michigan and is a serious football fan. She didn’t leave the meeting empty-handed. The team presented her with a UVa football jersey — No. 1, of course — that has SULLIVAN on the back.

Jeff White

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