Leak replaces Phillips as Florida receivers coach


Joker Phillips stepped down Wednesday as Florida wide receivers coach.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 4:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.

In a stunning announcement, Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned Wednesday, citing personal reasons.

UF coach Will Muschamp announced that former UF quarterback Chris Leak, who has been a non-coaching member of the Gators’ staff since last year, has been elevated to wide receivers coach for the 2014 season.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons," Phillips said.

Phillips joined Muschamp’s staff as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator a little more than a year ago. Before that, he had been the head coach at Kentucky for three years and a longtime assistant at UK, his alma mater.

Phillips was considered a possible candidate for the open offensive coordinator job at UF in December, but Muschamp went in a different direction, replacing the fired Brent Pease with Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

"I appreciate Joker's contributions to our program and wish him and his wife, Leslie, nothing but the best in the future," Muschamp said.

Phillips, a 26-year coaching veteran, is being replaced by someone with basically zero coaching experience. Leak, an aspiring coach, was hired by Muschamp to be the Gators’ quality control coach in May 2013. Leak broke down film and had other responsibilities in the coaches’ office, but did not do any coaching on the field.

"Chris is a bright young coach," Muschamp said. "He is one of the all-time Gator greats and being at Florida is very important to him. He has been working with Coach Roper and our offensive staff and is very familiar with our players and new system."

In his four years as the Gators’ starting quarterback (2003-06), Leak became UF’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,213), completions (895) and attempts (1,458). Leak helped lead the Gators to the national championship in 2006, and was named the offensive player of the game in UF’s victory over Ohio State.

"I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Muschamp has given me and my family," Leak said. "It's an honor to be coaching at my alma mater where I have so many fond memories both on and off the field. We have a tremendous coaching staff, a great group of players and a support system in place and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Leak becomes the Gators’ fourth wide receivers coach in the past four years. Aubrey Hill, a former UF wide receiver, resigned suddenly before the start of training camp in 2012 and was replaced by graduate assistant Bush Hamdan for the 2012 season. Phillips replaced Hamdan after the 2012 season.

Now, Leak takes over a wide receiver group that struggled with consistency and production this past season, but seemed to make positive strides in Roper’s spread offense in the spring.

Leak is one of four new members on Muschamp’s staff, joining Roper, offensive line coach Mike Summers and special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler.

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