CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips logged a game-high 12 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game last December, but his efforts weren’t enough as the Hokies fell to the Tigers 42-35 thanks in part to Cordrea Tankersley’s game-sealing interception with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Seven months later, the sting of the loss still lingers for Phillips and Virginia Tech.
Phillips said Friday at the ACC Football Kickoff that he and the Hokies are looking for payback against Clemson this season when the two teams face off on Sept. 30 at Lane Stadium.
“It means a lot to us,” he said of the rematch. “I know it definitely means a lot to me just because of how we lost in the ACC Championship. I think it’s an opportunity for revenge, so I speak for the whole staff and the team when I say we’ll be ready for them. We’re not going to take them lightly at all. Like you said, they are the defending national champions.”
The Hokies enter the season as one of the favorites in the ACC Coastal under second-year coach Justin Fuente, who thus far has proved to be more than an adequate replacement for longtime coach Frank Beamer.
However, Virginia Tech lost six productive players who started 12 or more games in 2016, including quarterback Jerod Evans, running back Sam Rogers, tight end Bucky Hodges and wide receiver Isaiah Ford.
Phillips thinks this year’s game against the defending national champs will be a measuring stick for Virginia Tech.
“I think it will be a great opportunity to show our growth in the season,” he said. “I believe it’s, what, the fifth game of the season, so it’ll be a nice test for us to see where we are.”
Phillips made it clear he isn’t looking past Virginia Tech’s games against West Virginia, Delaware, East Carolina and Old Dominion to start the season.
But he also made it known he is excited for a shot at Clemson in front of the fans in Blacksburg.
“I’m not overlooking any of those opponents as we have to get through them first,” he said. “But when the time comes, I’m pretty sure the atmosphere will be amazing. The fans will be ready. The players will be ready. I’m pretty sure everyone will be watching us.”