Dabo Swinney is really encouraged by the development of this redshirt sophomore safety.
Jalyn Phillips played 33 snaps in Clemson’s 10-3 season-opening loss to Georgia in Charlotte. In the next four games, he totaled just 69 snaps altogether. That more so had to do with the emergence of true freshman Andrew Mukuba than the play of the Lawrenceville Ga. native.
Now, he’s back in the mix again and receiving significant playing time in Clemson’s backend.
“He’s a redshirt sophomore and just has really matured…He’s stayed the course,” Dabo Swinney said Tuesday. “He’s very detailed in his preparation. He’s very detailed in his practice habits. He shows up every day and man, he shows up to compete. You have to compete here. You have to compete. And man, he’s just a great competitor, who takes a lot of pride in his performance, a lot of pride in his knowledge of the game. I’m really proud of him.”
As Mukuba has hit the proverbial “freshmen wall” and Brent Venables has utilized more three safety looks, it enabled Phillips to see an uptick in snaps. Especially in Clemson’s last two games, with Phillips seeing a total of 77 defensive snaps against Pitt and 55 against Florida State.
While he stumbled a bit in coverage in Clemson’s 30-20 win over FSU this past Saturday, earning a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 44.7, he excelled from a run defense and tackling standpoint. He graded out 69.3 and 77.7 in those categories, respectively.
Against FSU, Phillips was targeted six times, allowing four receptions (66.7%) and 69 total receiving yards.
As the season goes on, Phillips will need to continue to progress in his coverage abilities, but if the last two games and his coach’s comments are any indications, he’s clearly gained the trust of the coaching staff.