The consensus among the recruiting writers and experts is that USC has a lot of ground to make in order to land Redlands (Calif.) East Valley four-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips.
While some recruits are oblivious to the buzz resonating from their recruitment, Phillips is very aware that people have him penciled in as a Cardinal or Bruin commit.
“Yeah, I hear that,” Phillips laughed. “It just comes from the way I talk about the programs.
“Both are extremely good programs and my emphasis on academics has always been huge, so obviously Stanford would be huge with me. Then with my dad going to UCLA, that got people talking from the start.
“Once people figured that out, everybody started looking at me as a UCLA lean. But I do love the coaches, the school and the football program. It speaks for itself.”
Phillips doesn’t deny serious interest in both Stanford and UCLA, but he has not ruled out conserving other programs as well. USC remains in the hunt for Phillips, and the Trojans have shown the past few years that top recruiting classes aren’t built in March.
“I’ve been talking to Coach (Clay) Helton and Coach KU (Kenechi Udeze) a lot over the past few weeks,” said Phillips. “I’ll be up at practice in the next week or so. I’m not sure when, but I want to get up there with my dad.
“It’s an easy drive, so I’m looking forward to seeing campus more and talking with Coach KU. I’ve been around USC my whole life — USC and UCLA. But I’ve never actually been on a campus tour at USC, so I’m definitely interested in seeing the facilities and talking with the rest of the coaches more.
“Last time I went up it was for the Utah game and Coach (Peter) Sirmon was still there. I want to talk to the new coaches and get to know the program better.”
What Phillips has grew up watching was USC competing for national titles. Thus, his reference for considering USC revolves mainly around football.
“USC has always had one of the top football programs in the nation,” said Phillips. “Growing up, everyone from Southern California wants to go to USC.
“My intrigue in USC right now is that there are new coaches there, who I enjoy talking to. The football speaks for itself and the academics at USC speak for themselves as well. It’s just a matter of getting to know more about how the program fits me.”