One of the best juniors we've seen out West this year is linebacker/defensive end Jaelan Phillips
Phillips has a great frame at 6-5, 230 pounds and moves very well for a big man. He plays primarily outside linebacker and shows the athleticism to drop in to coverage, play in space and is a naturally gifted pass rusher. He's very fluid in his movement showing excellent lateral mobility and covers a ton of ground.
With his size and growth potential, Phillips projects best a pass rushing defensive end at the next level. He had four sacks this past weekend against Rialto (Calif.) Carter (see film above) showing off a great first step, a nice burst off the edge, violent hands and the speed to run down a play from behind.
Phillips is currently rated the No. 275 player in the country in the 2017 Scout 300 but after watching his junior film, that's way too low and you can expect to see a nice bump for the athlete next time ratings are adjusted. He has both production and potential and looks like an easy top 100 player nationally.
This past weekend, Phillips headed out to Arizona to check out the Wildcats .
"It was a great visit," Phillips said. "Coach (Miguel) Reveles took me and my family on a full tour of the campus and everything involving the football program. We saw the practice fields, the locker rooms, players lounge and workout facilities.
"I really liked the campus, it had a very cool college town vibe to it and everything circulates around Wildcat football. The faciliites are really nice and the coaches told me they're doing some renovations including building an indoor facility next to the practice field for post practice/game recovery. The stadium has an incredible game day vibe as well so I really enjoyed myself there."
Despite a tough loss, Phillips still took away a few positives from the game.
"Arizona never gave up," Phillips said. "I honestly didn't think they played that poorly other than the early turnovers. UCLA capitalized on the turnovers and kept their foot on the throttle all game long and Rosen played a lot better this week but Arizona kept playing hard and battled and that was impressive."
Phillips actually has some strong ties to the UCLA program so the visit to Tucson allowed him to check out two of the programs he's interested in.
"I grew up a big UCLA fan," Phillips said. "My dad and aunt both went to school there and my grandpa and grandma actually taught there so I have a lot of ties and been a big fan my whole life. I love the school and the program so it's naturally an early favorite but I'm still keeping an open mind throughout this process and learning as much as I can about every school I'm interested in.
"I went to the BYU game and I've been to the campus several times with my dad. Coach Martin and Coach McClure are recruiting me and I've had a lot of interaction but again, I'm still open to all the schools showing interest in me and I'm going to take several more visits before making a decision."
Oregon and Washington will be the next schools Phillips plans to check out.
"I'm going to Oregon on (Oct. 10) and Washinton on (Nov. 7)," Phillips said. "I want to make a decision this coming spring so I can get it out of the way before my senior year. I want to be able to just focus on school and football when I'm a senior with no distractions so that's a big reason I'm taking all these unofficial visits now.
"I'll visit both UCLA and USC as well and go to as many of their home games as I can. I'm planning to major in Communications and would love to go in to Broadcasting. The two local schools are obviously strong in that area and Washington is as well. So I'm looking forward to going through the process and then I'll figure everything out later this spring."