Florida receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned Wednesday, and assistant Chris Leak will take over his position on the staff.
UF incoming freshman Ryan Sousa, who flipped from Florida State to the Gators in December of last year, was devastated by the news.
“I’m sad to hear it,” he said. “He was one of the reasons I came to Florida. He’s surely going to be missed. He was a big asset as a coach.”
Unlike Aubrey Hill, whose recruiting skills were expected to be missed more than his coaching efforts when he left UF, Phillips’ departure has the opposite impact.
Though Phillips was perceived as a valuable recruiting addition to Will Muschamp’s staff at the time of his hire, he did not produce many top prospects for the Gators.
In the 2014 recruiting cycle, they missed on receivers such as Johnnie Dixon, Ermon Lane, Artavis Scott and Travis Rudolpoh. Phillips also failed to get his godson, Under Armour All-American and LSU safety signee Jamal Adams, to join him in Gainesville.
His inability to land 2014 targets probably had a lot to do with UF’s 4-8 season, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
The two receivers in Florida’s 2015 class won’t waver with Phillips gone. Tight ends coach Derek Lewis was responsible for Derrick Dillon’s commitment, and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper primarily recruited Tristan Payton.
“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Payton said of Phillips. “I’m still solid.”
What appears to have appealed to receiver recruits about Phillips was his ability to coach the position, which he did a commendable job of last season considering the circumstances.
The early returns on Leak assuming his coaching duties are positive.
Sousa camped at UF last summer and was impressed with Leak.
“He’s a QB, so he knows the wide receiver position,” Sousa said. “He can get what he needs out of the players because he has that perspective.”
Added Gators 2016 commit Tre Jackson on Twitter: “Chris Leak coached me all camp down at UF last year. Man knows what he’s doing.”
Tyler Byrd, Florida’s other verbal for 2016, is an athlete who could play either receiver or cornerback in college.
Phillips’ resignation seems to have made up his mind.
“That’s a big loss,” Byrd said. “He’s a really good coach, and I’m leaning more towards playing defense now that he’s not there.”