David Gardiner “Dode” Phillips, lll (January 2, 1900 – December 29, 1965) was born and raised in Bradley, SC of Greenwood County. Dode attended Chester High School where he was a three-sport athlete letterman. Through his efforts on the field, Phillips was awarded an athletic scholarship to Erskine College, where he played both football and baseball. Phillips was the hammer of the Erskine football team, leading them to victory over the University of South Carolina and scoring every point in their 13-0 victory over Clemson University in 1921, in which, he scored both TDs and kicked the extra point.
Clemson coach Frank Howard once said, “I’ve seen football players in the East, in the South and on the Pacific Coast, but I never yet seen a fullback that was equal to Dode Phillips. Many of the best that the game has produced… have not been in Phillips’ class”. Phillips athletic awards came after his playing days. In 1958 he was awarded the Service to Sports Award by the ACC Sports Writer Association, in 1965 he was elected into the NAIA Football Hall of Fame, and is a charter member in the state of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.
After college, Dode began a professional baseball career with the Durham Bulls but shortly after retired for his religious beliefs, he would not play on Sunday, despite his major league talent. Dode decided then to take on coaching high school football in Anderson, SC, then in Moultrie, GA, and retired at Erskine. Dode spent the remainder of his days sharing the Gospel, which some stated that was Dode’s real sport. At the time of his passing, he was called Mr. Football of South Carolina as the greatest athlete in South Carolina for the first half of the twentieth-century.
Photo courtesy of Erskine Athletics