Five-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips proved in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday why he is considered the top-rated prospect at his position in the 2017 class.
Phillips, a midyear recruit who is already enrolled at UCLA, had an impressive showing with a handful of tackles and numerous hurries on the quarterback, standing out among all the talent on the field. Scout.com pegged the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Phillips as one of the game's top defenders, labeling as "the most noticeable prospect on either roster," and that's obviously good news for the Bruins given the season they just had.
In the clip above, Phillips storms into the backfield, forcing the running back out wide before chasing him down from behind. That type of relentless pursuit earned Phillips good reviews throughout the week in San Antonio -- and it's a trait that should help him see the field early on in his college career. He has great length, superb athleticism and the effort to match all that.
From a speed standpoint alone, it would appear that Phillips is college ready.
The Redlands (Calif.) East Valley star was an absolute force off the edge, consistently beating offensive tackles to either pressure quarterbacks or rush ball carriers. Phillips is technically sound and already shows a good understanding of several rushing moves.
With Takkarist McKinley gone, the Bruins could use a player to fill his role in next season's defense. The only other player on UCLA's roster with a similar skill set would be former five-star Keisean Lucier-South, who will certainly be one to watch this spring to see what type of leap he takes after his redshirt freshman season. And though it might be a bit unrealistic to expect Phillips to step into McKinley's role right away, there's no doubt he has the ability to be a significant member of the Bruins' front seven next fall.