Coach Mike McDaniel and his team spent the week on the west coast and the team practiced at UCLA, where Jaelan Phillips played in 2017 as a true freshman.
“It was fun. It was real fun. This whole city is real nostalgic for me,” Phillips said of his return to UCLA. “It has a special place in my heart. Obviously it didn’t work out with football, but there’s no bad blood at all, man. I’m just grateful to be back here soaking in every moment. I’m so blessed.”
Phillips played seven games during his freshman season and earned 21 tackles, seven of which were for a loss. He played four games as a sophomore before a concussion ended his season and he medically retired from football in December 2018. However, he transferred to the University of Miami in 2019 and continued playing football in college as a member of the Hurricanes.
“I don’t got time for self-reflection. I try to stay present,” Phillips said. “I talk about that a lot and I think that maybe sometimes when we think about like, ‘oh, you know, back in the day,’ or when I see my homies from college, I’ll talk to them about it. But ultimately, I have no regrets about how everything went down. I think it was all God’s plan. It was all perfect timing. So yeah, it’s a crazy journey for sure, but it feels great.”
For the Dolphins, Phillips has at least half a sack in each of the last three games and a total of five on the season.
“At a point, I did,” Phillips said when asked if he envision becoming a first-round pick while he was at UCLA. “Coming into UCLA, being the No. 1-ranked player in the nation. I kind of figured I’d be a No. 1 overall draft pick kind of thing. And then about half a season later, I was like, I might not ever play football again. So definitely a whirlwind of emotions.
“But like I said, ultimately I think God has a plan for everybody. I think his plan for me was to be able to set an example for people and I think that I’m exactly where I need to be now.”