After just one season in Gainesville, Joker Phillips has resigned as the wide receivers coach at the University of Florida.
“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 in a release by the UAA.
Phillips joined Will Muschamp’s in December of 2012 after serving as the head football coach at Kentucky for three seasons. Phillips was fired from his alma mater after posting a 13-24 record but had won over the players at Florida. “He brought a lot. Coach Joker is a real good receivers coach,” former Gator Solomon Patton said of his former position coach.
Phillips spent the past week working at Will Muschamp’s football camps and his contract ran through 2014. He came in at a time of uncertainty for the Gators. Former receivers coach Aubrey Hill abruptly resigned before the 2012 season, leaving Florida with a graduate assistant (Bush Hamdan — who has since moved on to Arkansas State) to coach receivers in the interim.
Phillips hiring in 2012 was considered to be a steal by Muschamp and the Gators. Being able to add a former head coach in he SEC as a position coach on your staff is a luxury any head coach would love to have.
“We are excited to have Joker join our staff,” Muschamp said in a statement following the hire. “His background as a head coach and the number of years he has coached wide receivers will be a tremendous asset to our coach staff and players. Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting.”
Phillips departure is not good news for Florida but there is a silver lining. Phillips departure created a vacancy on the staff and Florida did not have to look far to fill it, announcing a promotion for Chris Leak.
Leak returned to Gainesville last season and served as a graduate assistant. Leak will take over as the receivers coach immediately.
Leak quarterbacked the University of Florida to their second national championship in school history in 2006 and left Florida as the school record holder in passing yards (11,213), completions (895) and attempts (1,458).
“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.”
New to coaching, this is a huge opportunity for Leak. He will now not only have to assume more responsibility on the field but also will be tasked with recruiting, something very new to him.
Leak realizes the opportunity in front of him and is grateful that Muschamp saw it fit to extend him the opportunity to prove himself on a grander stage.
“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.”