VAUGHT: Phillips praises senior class

Kentucky ends its regular season by hosting Tennessee Saturday in what should be an emotional farewell for a group of seniors who have helped resurrect the UK program. Offensive coordinator Joker Phillips shares his thoughts on that senior class

Question: What are you going to miss about this senior class?

Phillips: "Their leadership, their smiles and their attitude. They come to work every day with all those things. You are going to miss Jacob Tamme, Keenan Burton, Wesley Woodyard and those guys. One thing you like about them is that they understand the struggle we have been through. I just hope they will continue to tell the young kids about the struggle because these young kids don't understand the struggle we went through early. If they can just feel some of the pain and suffering they went through, that would be big to leave for the young kids."

Question: How rare is it today to have a whole class with that work ethic and attitude?

Phillips: "It is very rare. One of the thing about the senior class is that there are a lot of winners. Jacob Tamme won state championships five years in a row, or saw it won five in a row. Keenan Burton won a lot of games. Wesley Woodyard won a couple of championships. When you get a bunch of winners together, that is what you get. You get guys who understand what it takes to win. They might not win in their first year, but once they win and grow up, you will get a winner and that is what we have got."

Question: How much has their presence helped recruiting?

Phillips: "One thing they have done is do a good job of telling young kids how we do things. That is important. When your players are the villains — I learned this a few years ago — that is when your program has a chance to take off. We have guys in this program, especially in the senior class, that have been the villians. It hasn't been the coaches getting on kids about things off the field or in the classroom or on the field, it has been those seniors who have been on them. They explain to them that, ‘Hey, we don't do that here at Kentucky. Here is how we do it at Kentucky.'"

Question: Is it just luck in recruiting to get a class like that or did the staff plan this?

Phillips: "When you put together a recruiting plan, one of the things you have to look for first is a kid with character. A kid with character will improve every day. That has what happened with this senior class. All of them have great character. Regardless of whether coaches are around or who is watching, they are going to improve because they have great character. They have infected it throughout the whole program."

Question: Do you worry what it will be like when they are gone?

Phillips: "Yes we do. Yes. We are trying to look and search for the next group of leaders. Hopefully they are leaving a mark on some of these young kids."

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