Phillips has spent the past two seasons in a similar position under Hays at West Texas A&M. The Buffaloes enjoyed their most successful season in some 55 years in 2005, going 10-2 to post their first winning season since 1998 and the program's first 10-win campaign since 1950. Along the way, WTAMU won the Lone Star Conference with an 8-1 record, its first league title since 1986, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the first time in school history.
West Texas A&M led the 2005 Division II ranks in passing offense, throwing for an average of 363.8 yards per contest, and Phillips' pupil Dalton Bell was a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy. Bell completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,799 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions in 454 attempts. He ranked No. 3 nationally in total offense yards (349.2 ypg) and 13th in pass efficiency with a 154.9 rating while establishing school and conference single-season records for both total offense (3,843) and passing (3,799) yards. Bell posted seven 300-yard passing games, including four of 400 or more yards.
Prior to joining the WTAMU staff, Phillips spent one season as a student assistant coach at his alma mater, UTEP, and played two years with the San Diego Riptide in the Arena Football League 2.
A three-year letterwinner for the Miners (1999, 2000 and 2001), Phillips was a member of the 2000 UTEP team which shared the WAC title, posted the program's highest win total in more than a decade and played in the Humanitarian Bowl. He still ranks among the school's single-season leaders in both pass efficiency (No. 9 with a 120.03 rating in 2001) and completion percentage (No. 8 at 55.6 percent in 2001).
The son of former NFL head coach and current San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the grandson of former Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints coaching legend Bum Phillips, Wes received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from UTEP in 2001.