The 21-year-old earned second-team All-American and All-ACC honors, recording 45 total tackles and 8.0 sacks. He blossomed with the Hurricanes after spending two disappointing seasons at UCLA before being forced into a medical retirement. He sat out most of 2018 and the entire 2019 season before returning to the field in 2020.
Here's a look at how the Dolphins' defensive depth chart breaks down now.
Miami Dolphins Depth Chart
LDE: Christian Wilkins, Jason Strowbridge, Nick Coe
NT: Raekwon Davis, Adam Butler, John Jenkins, Benito Jones
RDE: Emmanuel Ogbah, Zach Sieler, Jonathan Ledbetter, Tyshun Render
WLB: Jaelan Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel, Brennan Scarlett
LB: Jerome Baker, Duke Riley, Vince Biegel
LB: Benardrick McKinney, Calvin Munson, Elandon Roberts
SLB: Sam Eguavoen, Kylan Johnson
CB: Byron Jones, Nik Needham, Jamal Perry, Terrell Bonds
CB: Xavien Howard, Noah Igbinoghene, Tino Ellis
FS: Bobby McCain, Brandon Jones
SS: Eric Rowe, Clayton Fejedelem, Nate Holley, Brian Cole
Phillips said last October:
"It's surreal to be back. A year and a half ago, when I was living by myself in an apartment in L.A. going to a junior college taking music production classes, I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to do what I'm doing again. Being here, thinking about the time I've spent and how hard it's been, it means a lot for me to be back on the field again. It drives my game, it drives my passion.
"It's just the best feeling to be able to do this again."
The former 5-star prospect's comeback story could mean the best is yet to come for a player with every physical gift in the toolbox.
Listed at 6'5" and 266 pounds, Phillips has elite size and fast-twitch skills off the edge. He's more gifted as a pass-rusher than as an all-around member of the front seven, but his time away from the game helped him redevelop a passion that should make him a quick learner.
Miami finished tied for 10th in the NFL last season with 41 sacks, and Phillips should help improve that mark even more by stepping right in and earn playing time as a rookie. Even if he just works in as a situational pass-rusher early in his career, Phillips should make an immediate impact.