Florida’s receiver commits reacted positively to the hiring of new receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips on Monday.
The Gators have four 2013 wideouts committed and one for the 2014 class, and all five expressed excitement about their future position coach.
Alvin Bailey (Seffner, Fla./Armwood): “I’m happy with the hire and I’m ready to see how things are when I get up there. Coach (Will) Muschamp told me Joker Phillips knows what he’s doing and that I’m going to be comfortable with him. It’s nice because I get to go into a situation where I’m making a first impression just like everybody else and there’s no favoritism.”
Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny): “I’m ready to start working with Joker Phillips after the way coach Muschamp was talking about him. He’s been a head coach, he’s been an offensive coordinator and he has a lot of experience with receivers, so I know he’s qualified for the job. And he must be a good guy if coach Muschamp hired him.”
Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, Ga./Carver): “I don’t know much about him, but I hear he’s a great coach and knows my position as good as anyone. That’s great for me, especially coming in as a freshman. When I get to the next level, I need somebody to show me the ropes and I feel like he’s going to allow me to play early because he can teach a lot.”
Chris Thompson (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville): “I’m glad we got a good coach that knows the game of football and the receiver position. I’m ready to see how much he can help me out. He has a lot of knowledge and I’m willing to do anything it takes to get better, so both of us should be able to work well with each other.”
Ryeshene Bronson (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar): “I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’ll be there for their practice on Dec. 15 and hopefully we hit it off. His experience actually motivates me to get closer to him because he’s been coaching since 1991 so obviously he’s doing something right.”
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said Phillips is a reputable recruiter that has been successful in the SEC.
“He’s had to recruit for programs that don’t sell themselves, so that means he hustles harder than most coaches and knows how to get the job done,” Farrell said. “He’s recruited the southeast before, so I think this is a natural fit and he’s a guy that relates to kids very well. To have a former SEC head coach come in as your recruiting coordinator, that’s a big boost. The experience on this staff was great to start with, and now it’s even better than it was before.”
Phillips was a receiver for Kentucky from 1981-1984 and began his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1988. He became assistant recruiting coordinator in 1990 and was promoted to receivers coach the following year. He coached the position at Kentucky until 1996 and then served in the same role with Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
Phillips returned to the Wildcats as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2003 after head coach Guy Morriss and all of his assistants, including current Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, left for Baylor.
That winter, Phillips played a key role in keeping four-star quarterback Andre Woodson committed to Kentucky. Woodson went on to set the school record for most career touchdown passes (78), the SEC record for most touchdown passes in a season (40) and the all-time NCAA record of 271 consecutive pass attempts without an interception (325).
Phillips was named Kentucky’s offensive coordinator in 2005 and spent the past three seasons as its head coach.
Dating back to 1999, Phillips has coached the No. 2 (Craig Yeast), No. 5 (Derek Abney) and No. 7 (Keenan Burton) SEC career reception leaders as well as current NFL receivers Randall Cobb, Stevie Johnson and tight end Jacob Tamme.