After going back and forth between the UCLA Bruins and Stanford Cardinal, Scout 100 defensive end Jaelan Phillips pulled the trigger Thursday and will play his college ball close to home for the Bruins.
UCLA was the early leader for Phillips, telling us over a year ago, the Bruins were his childhood favorite and dream school. Much of that was due to coming from a Bruin family as his father and aunt attended UCLA and both of his grandparents taught at the school as well.
UCLA still found themselves trailing the Cardinal following a pair of visits to the Farm but that all changed this past weekend when Phillips took a final visit to Westwood.
"That visit sealed the deal for me," Phillips said. "I spent a ton of time with the coaches and players and really felt a connection. I spent two nights there and more than anything, UCLA is the school I felt the most comfortable at.
"My parents and I were able to spent a lot of time with the coaches as well and get to know them better on a personal level. We talked with Coach Mora for over an hour, not even about football that much, more about life in general, more personal stuff. I know I joked about calling myself fickle and how I go back and forth but after that visit, I knew UCLA was the place for me."
Location also played a role for Phillips.
"UCLA is an hour and a half away from home so it's close but still far enough away for me to feel like I'm going away to college," Phillips said. "I'm really close with my little sister so I can come home whenever I need to but at the same time, I'm far enough away that I'll feel like I'm on my own and can gain some independence.
"Academically, UCLA is a great fit for me as well. I want to major in Broadcasting and there are so many alums in that field and there is great networking in the L.A area. I'm close with a lot of of players and recruits going to UCLA and that connection helped as well. I know I had some great options and Stanford is a phenomenal school but like I said, it came down to going where I felt most comfortable and where I would have the most long term success and for me, that was UCLA.
"I'm really excited about this decision. I made it over the weekend but didn't tell the coaches until Wednesday night. I feel total peace about it and know it's the right move for me. I won't be taking any other visits, unofficial or official, except to UCLA. I'm totally shutting the process down and I'm just really excited to be a Bruin and help build this recruiting class."
Phillips is a tremendous pickup for UCLA and has as much upside as any defensive end in the country. He actually played outside 'backer for REV last season and showed the athleticism to move around, drop in cover and play in space. He has a great frame at 6-5, 230 pounds and should have no problem playing at 250+ pounds in two or three years and moving down to the defensive line.
He's a natural pass rusher with a great burst off the edge, long arms that he uses to get opposing lineman off him and a nonstop motor. Throw in a tremendous work ethic off the field and it's easy to see why he had national offers from schools all over the country.
For more on Phillips decision and what it means for UCLA moving forward, check out the Scout Now video above.