By: Tanner Elliott
The Miami Dolphins selected Jaelan Phillips with the 18th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Most Dolphin fans were ecstatic with the pick, as he not only played his final college season at the University of Miami, but also was the top edge rusher in the draft. The reason Phillips fell to the 18th pick was due to his injury history, which we will cover. In this article, we take a deep dive into getting to know Jaelan Phillips. For an excellent video on his journey from high school prospect to his senior season at The University of Miami, check out football Youtuber FlemLo Raps who did a video on Jaelan Phillips.
Coming out of high school, Phillips was the man. He not only the top edge rushing prospect, but also the top prospect overall in the country in the 2017 recruiting class. Phillips had a 247 Sports Composite grade of .9989 out of 1 and was obviously a five-star recruit. Being the caliber of player he is, Phillips could go anywhere he wanted for college. Ultimately, he chose to go to UCLA, as he is from Redlands, CA and wanted to be close to home.
As a freshman in college, Phillips played in seven games and had 21 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Unfortunately for Phillips, this is where he started to get a ton of injuries. During his freshman season he suffered three injuries, a right ankle sprain, left ankle injury, and a concussion. This was unfortunate, as he was just getting started in his promising college career.
His sophomore year at UCLA was just like the first; he flashed potential, yet could not stay healthy as he only played in four games. During the four-game stretch, he had 20 tackles but just one sack. In retrospect, this is still impressive, as Phillips was hit by a car when he was on his moped during the offseason, suffering wrist injuries and his second concussion within a year. Obviously having two concussions in two years isn’t good, but Phillips also suffered three other injuries during this time. During the season, the injury bug kept biting Phillips as he suffered his third concussion. A UCLA policy states that when an athlete has three concussions, they’re forced to retire. This was awful news to Phillips, as he was now forced to medically retire.
After Phillips was forced to retire, he went to Los Angeles Community College to study music production. Music was Phillips’s second love after football, and he’s a very impressive musician. He plays all sorts of instruments (piano, trumpet, and guitar), and has said that if he wasn't playing football he would have worked in music. During this time, Phillips also worked at his dad’s law firm until he found himself at IHeartRadio with an internship.
Phillips transferred to The University of Miami after pondering whether or not to return to college football. The reason why Phillips decided to attend the U over a plethora of other colleges was their music program. Phillips sat out the 2019 college football season due to transfer rules but during this time he started to bulk up and regain his muscle. The 2020 season allowed Phillips to shine as Miami’s top pass rusher, as Gregory Rousseau opted out due to the Pandemic. During this season, Phillips showed everyone what he was capable of. He had 45 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, and 8 sacks; all career highs. Not only did Phillips have a fantastic year, but he played in 10 games (a career high) and did not have one injury.
Phillips faced plenty of adversity through his football career, but always overcame it. From being the top recruit in the nation, then being forced to medically retire, to being a huge part of the U’s defense and being the 18th pick in the NFL Draft. Now that Phillips has all the confidence in the world, expect him to light it up with the Dolphins.