Redshirt Junior-DE-6’5”-245 lbs- Red Lands East Valley HS-UCLA
With newfound innovation surging through the offensive side of the Miami Hurricanes, the team’s consistent pillar will be the defense. The excitement igniting around the linebackers, the backend, and pass-rushers has mounted throughout the offseason. In the trenches, the Hurricanes return two of the nation’s top pass-rushers, Gregory Rousseau and Quincy Roche. Another fierce playmaker in the defensive front’s shuffle will be Jaelan Phillips. The former five-star recruit and current redshirt junior is motivated to prove himself amongst the Canes’ top-tier pass-rushing specialists.
Pre Canes Years
Jaelan Phillips was an ESPN, Rivals, and Scout.com five-star recruit. He was also the No. 3 player on the ESPN 300 list and was rated No. 5 on Sports Illustrated’s National List, amongst many other accolades. The Army All-American Bowl Game invitee finished his senior season at Red Lands East Valley High School with 142 tackles and 21 sacks. After a tremendously successful high school campaign, Phillips committed to play for the UCLA Bruins. He spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at UCLA. During his time there, Phillips racked up 41 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.
Following his transfer from UCLA, Phillips sat out the entire 2019 season. Under the instruction of strength and conditioning coach, David Feeley, Phillips bulked up from his 245 lbs frame to 265 lbs.
August 2019/March 2020...Hard times turned me into a Monster! God’s plan...it was already written pic.twitter.com/jqg2vLDaWR— Jaelan Phillips ; ® (@JJPhillips15) March 4, 2020
Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker had this to say about Phillips this offseason, “He’s a special dude. The thing that’s very impressive about him is how well he hits. He understands leverage. He does a great job getting into the offensive tackle’s pads.” Phillips will not only provide some much-needed depth to the defense but he will also bring a vital mentality which is essential for the Canes’ 2020 success.
One of Manny Diaz’s biggest tasks in the offseason was cultivating a mindset shift. The way to begin that process is to insert talent and competition into the program. Diaz remarked on Phillips’ importance to that process, “It’ll take him a minute to get him back into the feel of things, but we expect him to be fighting for time. That’s why, whether it’s Greg, there’s no one that should be comfortable on this team. No one. Guys like Jaelan are a big reason why.” It’s clear that Phillips and the coaching staff have high expectations for the upcoming season.
Phillips is currently lining up with the second-team defensive line as a backup to Rousseau. As we all know, depth charts in football are written in sand. The percentage of game snaps, and defensive impact on the field, is exponentially more important than the inital lineup. The brain trust of Manny Diaz and Blake Baker found many creative ways to get multiple pass-rushers on the field in 2019. The NASCAR package placed Gregory Rousseau on the inside and the duo of Jonathan Garvin and Trevon Hill on the outside. With both Hill and Garvin in the ranks of the NFL, Phillips is primed to take over a spot at the top of the defensive rotation.
Star defensive end Gregory Rousseau is excited for Phillips, “He’s a freak of nature. He’s huge. He’s fast...I’m just happy for him because I know what it’s like to come back from an injury. It’s tough, and he’s worked so hard for these moments and he’s really going to take advantage of them. I believe in him 100 percent. We all do.”
Phillips will finally get a chance to marry his talent with opportunity. With two bookend pass-rushers in Roche and Rousseau, other specialists will see a multitude of occasions where they have one-on-one matchups in the trenches. With a player of Phillips’ skill and athleticism, he should be fiercely dominant in those mismatches.