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Miami DE Jaelan Phillips Seems Equipped to Deal With Heightened Expectations

The Nation's Former No. 1 Recruit Details His Recent Ups and Downs

There’s an upside and a downside to being named the nation’s No. 1 recruit, and Miami junior defensive end Jaelan Phillips has lived both. We’ll see how that translates to his play on the field this season, a year when UM figured it would have great success putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Whatever happens, Phillips has proven an interesting guy.

Listen to him in this video talk about how his career has progressed. The stuff he says about losing interest in football and now having that interest rekindled is fascinating.

“Two years ago I never thought that I would have been in this position again,” he said of being excited about playing football.

Phillips, the nation’s top recruit in 2017, had two injury-shortened seasons at UCLA in 2017 and 2018. Phillips played in seven games as a freshman and had 3.5 sacks to go along with 21 tackles. As a sophomore he played in just four games before a concussion ended his season. He finished 20 tackles and 1.0 sack.

Phillips transferred to UM in 2019, and he now displays a mature perspective. It’s almost as though you’re listening to someone who is wise beyond his years.

Phillips is tasked with helping replace the 15.5 sacks UM lost when defensive end Gregory Rousseau, a top possible top 10 NFL pick, decided to skip the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Phillips will team with Quincy Roche, the transfer from Temple who had 13.0 sacks last season and is projected as a second- or third-round NFL pick.

Interestingly, Phillips said his biggest thing upon arriving at UM was working his butt off so he could earn his teammates’ respect and not be seen as some sort of entitled player

“That was the most important thing to me,” he said.

It’s easy to say Phillips should have lots of sacks this season because opponents will have to double-team Roche and they can’t continually double-team both defensive ends. And that’ll just raise expectations once again.

But that’s what Phillips must deal with, increased expectations on top of still carrying the flag of being the nation’s No. 1 recruit.

After watching this video you’d have to say Phillips seems ready to face the challenge.