Phillips' resignation opens the door for Leak

The timing of Joker Phillips' resignation raised questions. It's rare that an assistant at a major program resigns during this part of the offseason. The move pushes Chris Leak into the responsibilities of coaching the wide receivers, giving the Gators a receivers coach with zero FBS assistant coaching experience for the second time in three years.

Florida went through a similar transition before the 2012 season. Aubrey Hill resigned shortly before the Gators opened fall camp, pushing Bush Hamdan from graduate assistant to receivers coach. It only lasted one season, and Hamdan moved on to Arkansas State as the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator following Florida's Sugar Bowl berth. Hamdan currently serves as the offensive coordinator at Davidson College.

There's a reason coaches don't get their first FBS assistant jobs at major programs. It's difficult, and while serving as a graduate assistant can ease the challenge of the promotion, there are still multiple changes that will take place as Florida gives Leak the job of coaching its wide receivers.


The Gators had the benefit of an experienced voice in the offensive meeting room with Joker Phillips. Florida coach Will Muschamp mentioned it multiple times since Phillips was hired in December 2012, but there is always an extra positive when you have another voice in the offensive room that has been through the experience of calling plays, as Phillips did at Kentucky from 2005-09.

With Brent Pease serving as the offensive coordinator last year, the Gators had three assistants in the room with playcalling experience since Brian White served the offensive coordinator at Syracuse and Wisconsin. White will still be in the room this year under first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

However, replacing one assistant with experience as a coordinator and a head coach with a new coach taking his first FBS assistant coach job is less than ideal. That's especially the case for an offense that desperately needs a turnaround this season.


Phillips also held the title of recruiting coordinator, and while that isn't always the most important title on staff, it does need to be replaced. The easy guess to add the title is defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson. He's already one of the best recruiters on the Florida staff and has built a reputation as one of the best recruiters in the southeast and even the country.

The biggest recruiting issue with Phillips' departure has nothing to do with the title. It comes down to putting an inexperienced recruiter in Leak on the road. Anyone who has ever met Leak can tell you how engaging he is to talk to, and most believe that will transfer to the recruiting trail, but recruiting against some of the best, most experienced assistant from power programs is a challenge for any assistant. It will be even more difficult for an inexperienced Leak.

That's not to say he can't do it. If anyone can, it's Leak. He saw plenty of the recruiting process as he was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the 2003 recruiting class. He is capable of keeping things afloat on the recruiting trail.


While Leak served as a record-breaking quarterback in Gainesville, the Charlotte product learned a lot about different positions. To run an offense, the quarterback has to know what's happening at every position. Knowing and understanding how to teach the responsibilities at receiver shouldn't be an issue for Leak.

He'll also be working closely with Roper. It shouldn't be much different from the way Brent Pease handled the situation in 2012. He coached the quarterbacks while also serving as the offensive coordinator, the same responsibilities Roper takes over. For most of the time during open practices in the spring, the quarterbacks and receivers worked together.

Roper doesn't have the experience that Pease did as a receivers coach, but in his time serving as an offensive coordinator before Florida, his passing games have been very successful. He'll keep a close eye on the receiver position during practices, which should help Leak.

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