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For ’Canes defensive lineman, playing field includes football and music

Jaelan Phillips explains how recuperating from an accident gave him time to realize his love for music.
Jaelan Phillips. Photo courtesy University of Miami Athletics
Jaelan Phillips (in white jersey) practices with the Miami Hurricanes football team. Photo: University of Miami Athletics

Jaelan Phillips knows what it is like to overcome obstacles. In 2018, Phillips had to undergo intricate surgery after he was hit by a car while on his scooter, which later led him to take time off from UCLA football. Although the road to recovery was difficult, Phillips took the opportunity to figure out his future career path.

“During my recovery I had to seriously think about what I wanted to pursue outside of football, and music was really what I found myself drawn to. I realized that I wanted to pursue a full-time career in music and wanted to get the proper training,” explained Phillips. “While researching schools I wanted to transfer to, I learned that the Frost School of Music was one of the top schools in the country. And when I began to also get recruited to play for UM football, I thought it was a no brainer to attend the U.”

As a current ’Canes defensive lineman, Phillips transferred to the University in 2019 and is now enrolled at the Frost School of Music, where he is studying music business. He also is learning about motion pictures in the School of Communication. 

“It’s been amazing so far. I’ve learned a whole lot about digital production which is something I’ve always been very interested in. I find myself constantly tying the concepts I learn in the School of Communication with the concepts I learn at Frost, which go hand in hand,” he pointed out. 

Phillips said his love for the music industry stems from his family.

“My grandfather was a world-renowned pianist and conductor. My mother plays the cello, and my father plays the trumpet. I’ve just had music surrounding me my entire life,” he noted.

Phillips’ grandfather is Jon Robertson, an internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor who earned three degrees from the famed Juilliard School and now serves as dean of the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton. Phillips himself has also been classically trained in the piano since he was 8 years old.

“I’ve always had that creative side in me. So, I decided to take the time to go back to pursuing something that was always a part of me,” said Phillips. 

He said his family is proud that he has decided to study music at the Frost School of Music.

“My mom thinks it’s wonderful that I’ve decided to go after music again. My grandpa also enjoys hearing about what I’m learning. I think they’re super happy that I found a new love and passion for music,” said Phillips.

Throughout his experience at the University, the senior has had to learn how to juggle both his rigorous football schedule along with his school course load. 

“It’s definitely been difficult. But I’ve always held grades to a high standard and strive to get the best grades possible. So, for me I’ve learned how to really focus and manage my time wisely,” he explained. 

Phillips admitted that the University’s faculty and staff have helped him adapt quickly.

“The people are amazing. Since I got here, the staff and professors have been pivotal with helping me feel comfortable as a transfer student. UM has a great mix of prestigious academics and athletics; so, I think those combined aspects have made my experience great.”

With the football season kicking off this week, he said he is ready to also finally take the field again.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since 2018, and I’m more than prepared and extremely excited,” Phillips said. “Everyone can expect a great season out of the ’Canes this year.”