Recruitment: Jaelan Phillips emerged as a very high-level prospect during his junior season. Even though he played linebacker much of the time, it was obvious that he had a great deal of potential on the defensive line. This spring, he continued to look very good and his recruitment continued to blow up. Over the last few weeks, he'd effectively narrowed his choices to Stanford, USC, and UCLA, and many around the recruitment thought that Stanford was in the lead as of two weeks ago, despite UCLA being the childhood favorite. UCLA got him on campus for an unofficial visit last weekend, though, and that pushed Phillips back toward UCLA. He committed to the Bruins on Thursday. He built a great friendship with fellow UCLA commit Hunter Echols throughout the process, and the UCLA staff did a great job recruiting him. As of now, it sounds like he's locked in and won't take any more trips.
Evaluation: From Greg Biggins -- Phillips has a great frame 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 shows off a great first step, a nice burst off the edge, violent hands and the speed to run down a play from behind
Impact for UCLA: For UCLA's purposes, especially with the move to a 4-3, Philips projects best as a defensive end. He is already a very good pass rusher, and he has the frame to bulk up into a very good edge run defender, with the ability to deal with lead blockers. UCLA needs impact, versatile defensive ends who can play both the run and the pass well, especially with guys like Matt Dickerson graduating after 2017, and Phillips certainly projects to fit that bill. For this recruiting class, with both Phillips and Echols now committed, UCLA can turn its focus much more to the interior of the defensive line, where it'll be critical to land a couple of very good defensive tackles in what is turning out to be an exceptional year out West for DTs.