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Florida Gators hired fired Kentucky coach Joker Phillips as assistant

GAINESVILLE — Joker Phillips was born in Kentucky and spent more than two decades at the University of Kentucky as a former player, grad assistant, assistant and head coach. Beginning Friday, he'll shed the blue and white for orange and blue.

Monday, Phillips was hired as Florida's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, replacing Aubrey Hill, who abruptly resigned in August just before the start of fall camp.

"We are excited to have Joker join our staff," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "His background as a head coach and the number of years he has coached wide receivers will be a tremendous asset to our coaching staff and players. Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting."

Phillips, 49, joins the staff after three seasons as Kentucky's head coach. He was Kentucky's first African-American football head coach and the first coach to take the Wildcats to a bowl game in his first season. He won more games (six) than any first-year UK coach since Blanton Collier in 1954. His teams broke long-time skids with wins over South Carolina and Tennessee. He was fired in November in the midst of a 2-10 season.

Before being named head coach, Phillips was on Rich Brooks staff from 2003-09, including the last five seasons as offensive coordinator during which time UK had a 3,000-yard passer (Andre Woodson, twice), two 1,000-yard receivers (Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Rafael Little, twice).

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete and win at the highest level," Phillips said.

ALL-SEC FOOTBALL: Before the season began, you could barely find a Gator on any preseason honors list, with the exception of K Caleb Sturgis. Things have certainly changed. Monday, seven Gators were named to the AP All-SEC teams, including six first-team selections. Senior RB Mike Gillislee, Sturgis and junior TE Jordan Reed were first-team selections on offense. Junior DL Sharrif Floyd, junior DB Matt Elam and sophomore P Kyle Christy were first-team defensive selections. Sophomore DB Marcus Roberson was a second-team selection. Sturgis is the only Gator to repeat this season. Complete All-SEC teams, 2C.

MUSCHAMP A FINALIST: After leading the Gators to an 11-1 regular season, Muschamp is one of nine finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

FRAZIER HONORED: G Michael Frazier, the Montverde Academy grad who is also a former Tampa Plant standout, is this week's SEC basketball freshman of the week. Frazier had a career- and team-high 17 points off the bench in a rout of Marquette and was 5-for-8 from 3-point range. It was the first time a freshman led the Gators in scoring since Bradley Beal in the NCAA Tournament region finals against Louisville on March 24.

MURPHY INJURED: Senior F Erik Murphy has not practiced since he suffered a hip pointer in Thursday's win over Marquette and is questionable when the Gators play at Florida State on Wednesday night.

"What his status will be, I'm not sure," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "I don't know what's going to happen with the starting lineup right now, I really don't."

SWEET 16: With two wins to open the NCAA Tournament last week, the No. 14-seed volleyball team (27-4) advanced to the school's 21st Sweet 16 in 22 seasons under Mary Wise. The Gators will play No. 3 seed Texas (25-4) in Austin at 8 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to the region final against either No. 6 seed USC or Wichita State at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com. Follow her on Twitter: @TBTimes_Gators.

Florida Gators hired fired Kentucky coach Joker Phillips as assistant 12/03/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 9:42pm]

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