Palm Beach Gator Club Notebook

Joker Phillips met with the Palm Beach County Gator Club tonight in his first official speaking tour as a member of the Florida Gators coaching staff.

Phillips was candid, engaging and a very good speaker. He certainly is a proven coach who has coached a lot of good players and is excited about the players he has this season.

The highlight of the night might have been when the handler who was at the event with two live alligators, attempted to bring a 3-foot alligator up to the stage while Phillips was speaking for a photo op. We quickly found out that while he likes the Gators who wear orange and blue, he isn’t fond of actual, live alligators.

“Make sure that door is locked,” Phillips said as the handler put the alligator back in the cage. “When was the last time he ate?” he asked.

Enough about Phillips’ disdain for reptiles, you didn’t come here for that. Let’s talk about some football.

  • Phillips admitted that he is still learning all of the players names. He said, “If you didn’t practice in the spring, I probably don’t know your name.” 
  • Other than his position players, he didn’t know most of the players first names. Marcus Maye was the exception. Phillips raved about Maye and said that he is a player that “will help us out a lot” this season.
  • When asked about Loucheiz Purifoy, Phillips said Purifoy was the best athlete he has ever been around. Phillips said he keeps top-10 lists (best athlete, best player etc…) and that Purifoy crept onto the list of best athletes that he’s ever coached.
  • He said that he thinks Purifoy could play wide receiver in the NFL.
  • Purifoy will play a limited role on offense this year. After talking to Phillips today, I wouldn’t expect to see Purifoy making a permanent switch to offense this season.
  • Phillips said his job as the receivers coach is to get his players where they need to be on time. That means making sure they’re at practice on time, to class on time, they’re where they need to be in their routes on time and that they develop a good relationship with Jeff Driskel. He believes they are doing just that.
  • The offense put a heavy emphasis on the passing game this spring.
  • Don’t expect the Gators to utilize a ton of deep passes. Most teams play the Gators in man coverage and Joker said to beat man, you need to run other kinds of routes to beat the coverage.
  • Phillips said to expect Solomon Patton to continue his role being mainly used in jet sweeps. He said that because of his size, Patton is a hard player to find (hence, his role) and that using him in crossing routes could be another option along with sweeps.
  • Phillips said that Ronald Powell has “that hunger in his eyes” and he can’t wait to get back on the field. He has been working his tail off to be able to get back to 100% and Phillips is excited about being able to watch him play.
  • Phillips mentioned Demarcus Robinson throughout his opening speech. He said Robinson “will be a player” for us but he needs to get past some mental issues that all freshmen go through.
  • Phillips stressed that the state of Florida is full of talented players that “you can win championships with” and that recruiting Florida is paramount for the coaching staff.
  • Phillips said that the Gators need to find a replacement for Jordan Reed. He said he thinks that they have the players to do it but they need to see it on the field.
  • Phillips made sure to say that the wide receivers need to be able to block. He said that when your receivers block it will help to stretch the field on play action passes.
  • Joker Phillips expressed his confidence in Matt Jones. He said Jones looks like a linebacker carrying the ball out of the backfield.
  • Phillips said he was impressed by how seriously the players take special teams at Florida. From the starters down to the walk-on players, everyone takes it seriously.
  • Phillips was impressed with Florida having eight early enrollees. He said at his other schools they would only get one or two.
  • “We have a championship defense.” -Joker Phillips
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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC