Staff still getting to know lone QB signee

Kentucky's lone quarterback signee in this year's class, Reese Phillips, was a player the staff admittedly did not know much about beyond game film and trusted word of mouth in the coaching fraternity. Read more about why they were so impressed in this KyScout feature.

Few positions on a football team get scrutinized more than quarterback during the recruiting process. Prospects are often under the microscope for more than a year before coaching staffs make their decision on who to place at the top of their board.

Is he big enough?

How does he move?

What kind of arm strength does he have?

Can he execute the system and lead the offense?

Those questions can take a long time to be answered in many cases. And that made Kentucky's lone quarterback signee in the Class of 2013 fairly unique.

Reese Phillips was scouted and offered a scholarship by former UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. He committed to the Wildcats last summer, but wondered what his future would hold when UK parted ways with head coach Joker Phillips and hired defensive-minded Mark Stoops from Florida State.

As it played out, the new Kentucky staff was impressed, to the point where the Wildcats encouraged the Signal Mountain (Tenn.) High School standout to graduate early and enroll in January.

In many ways, they're still getting to know each other.

"We're not allowed to work with them with a football right now, so I haven't seen him throw yet," Stoops said during his signing day press conference on Wednesday at the Nutter Center. "But everybody that has been associated with Reese Phillips has been extremely impressed with what he does, and he's in the weight room doing a great job."

Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown describes Phillips as "a kid who kind of flew under the radar" in national recruiting circles.

"I only recruited him for about a week and a half where he was a mid-year graduate coming out of high school, but I was really impressed by his video," Brown added.

Brown trusted what he had heard from many colleagues when it came time to decide if the Wildcats should honor the scholarship issued by the previous staff and the commitment made by Phillips.

"A lot of my friends in the coaching fraternity had seen him throw live either in the spring or the fall, and all they could talk about was what kind of arm strength he had," Brown said. "They talked about how strong he was – a big, sturdy kid – and how, even though he was playing in a Wing-T offense, how he could really throw it downfield."

Brown's version of the "Air Raid" offense will be a big adjustment for Phillips, but the coach is excited about the player's potential.

"We felt like he was a really good fit for our style of play," Brown said. "He's got a strong arm, and he's really accurate. He's a smart kid, a good decision-maker, a guy who can lead your team."

Phillips, who passed for 2,274 yards and 15 touchdowns with only three interceptions as a senior at Signal Mountain, was MVP of the Tennessee High School East/West All-Star Classic, going 10-for-10 for 95 yards and a touchdown in leading the East squad to a 41-20 win. He'll likely redshirt this season at UK, Brown noted, but the staff intends to give him a full opportunity to compete this spring before making that decision.

The Wildcats return three sophomore quarterbacks from last year's team: Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles.

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