Note: The following appears in the Georgia Tech football gameday program.
Leadership, consistency and hard-working are all words that come to mind when talking about Jalyn Phillips. The graduate from Lawrenceville, Ga. has not only developed into a vital member of the Tiger defense at the safety position, he has also made his presence known as a vocal leader for the team off the field. Now in his fifth season, Phillips is looking to finish strong and leave his mark on the program.
Like many fellow Georgia natives on the Clemson team, Phillips chose to go to college close to home, and part of that reason was because he felt right at home in Tigertown.
“Clemson is very close to home, and it brings that home environment. That’s the main thing with the coaches. There are some coaches who are from Georgia, like my position coach (Mickey Conn). He was with our rival school in Georgia, so that’s how I knew of him, and it made me feel close to home. And him being from Georgia…it just made sense.”
Phillips has waited his turn throughout his years at Clemson and has become a starter the last two seasons. However, those early years were important in Phillips’ development and maturity.
“I’ve learned so many life lessons throughout this journey. Journeys can go up and down, and as we’re talking about both on and off the field, there are no perfect people in life. You’re going to go through some adversity. It’s how you respond to that adversity that means so much, and that’s the main thing I learned that helped me polish myself and be a man.”
The fifth-year senior pointed to former Tiger safeties K’Von Wallace and Nolan Turner for taking him under their wing, pouring into him and showing what it takes to improve on and off the field.
Phillips has undoubtedly improved on the field throughout his career. After being a rotational piece during his first two seasons, he made six starts during his third season and followed that by starting every game in 2022 while finishing second on the team in tackles (82).
He has continued his consistent play this season and is looking to finish the season strong. While he is a valuable teammate on the field, he has also made his presence felt off the field. In 2022, he was an All-ACC Academic selection and was voted by the team as a permanent team co-captain.
“It felt good that they voted me as a permanent team co-captain. It was a blessing to see the people in the locker room look at you as a leader. It shows you’ve been doing the right things. It was a very proud moment. I’m so thankful for the guys in the locker room. It meant so much. I love those guys. I’m very appreciative that they see me as a captain.”
The experience that Phillips brings is irreplaceable and is essential for a team captain. From being a young freshman to now being a fifth-year senior, #25 believes his past is a big asset that he has to offer.
“Experience brings value, so with my experience, I can help the young guys by showing them what it takes. I used to be a freshman, so I give them perspective of what it’s like to be a freshman and remind them that the days are long, but the years are short.
“I keep telling them to take advantage of every opportunity they get, and it helps me that those guys see me as a leader so I can help guide them in the right direction.”
Phillips has been able to enjoy his experiences through the years with some familiar faces in the defensive back room, which has been an added plus.
“Being veterans makes us gel even more. Everyone’s so experienced, and I get to learn from those guys. I can always try to get better every day. We all compete with each other, and it helps the team overall from a leadership aspect as well.”
Phillips committed to Clemson because of the coaching staff’s vision for their young student-athletes to graduate and develop into accomplished young men in life. Hearing how much a coaching staff genuinely cares about their players as people and their life goals struck a connection with Phillips and his family.
Becoming the first person in his family to graduate college with a degree was a big accomplishment for Phillips. Along with a decorated football career, Phillips has certainly made the most of his time at Clemson.
When asked how he wants to be remembered by players and coaches for his time at Clemson, Phillips shared the following comments.
“I want to be looked at as a young man who stood on business and was about his business all the way from the moment I stepped on campus. I also want to be remembered as a hard-working guy who no one has to worry about, knowing that he’s going to be at his best and be on his best behavior, and knowing you’ll always get the same ‘J.P.’ that you got since day one. I want to be seen as very consistent in everything I did.”
It is safe to say Phillips has gone about his business and has made his mark.