UK Football: Wildcats recruit Reese Phillips plans on enrolling at UK early
Chattanooga quarterback Reese Phillips, right, plans to graduate early and enroll at Kentucky in January. Signal Mountain coach Bill Price, left, says he has all the tools to play in the SEC. ¿He has a great arm, is very intelligent and is a physical player,¿ Price said. ¿I think he¿ll do great at Kentucky.¿ (Joe Hafley / November 16, 2012)
“I¿am taking a couple of weeks off football, then I¿am going to start throwing again with guys. Run, same process always gone through. I throw a lot but I have not ever had any shoulder problems.¿I¿throw all the time. I guess I have just gotten used to it. I have always thrown with my receivers. They are dedicated and that has helped me,” said Phillips, who threw for over 2,500 yards this season.
He was an early verbal commitment to Kentucky and has not backed off his pledge even though UK¿fired coach Joker Phillips after a 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt. He even plans to enroll at UK¿in January to get a head start on his college career.
“Right now I¿am planning on being there the next semester. It was hard to get everything in order. I¿am taking online English to graduate, and that was hard during football. But I am about done with it now,” Phillips said.
He said originally he was coming in January because “that is just kind of standard in the SEC” for quarterbacks.
“If you can come, they expect you to come early. But now it will a new staff, new offense. It actually makes more sense now than before because myself and all the other quarterbacks will be on the same competition level,” Phillips said.
“I¿am ready to get through high school. I love high school, but I¿am excited for the next stage, the next challenge. My mom is definitely not ready for me to do this quite yet. My dad, the brothers and sisters on his side have gone everywhere but I am the first on my mom’s side to leave for college. That’s a little hard for her.”
Here are other insights Phillips offered during an interview at his high school this week:
Question: What was your reaction to coach Joker Phillips being fired?
Phillips: “It was disappointing because you get attached to guys and people who give you the opportunity to play in such a high conference, but at the end of the day it is the way the SEC is. If you are not winning, stuff like this happens. It was disappointing, but I¿understood.”
Question: Have you been in contact with anyone at UK since Phillips was fired?
Phillips: “I talked to (offensive coordinator) coach (Randy) Sanders the day of (the firing), probably two hours after I¿learned what happened to Joker. He told me he was disappointed and didn’t really know about his situation. He pretty much just told me how it was. He kind of expected it. I think everyone did, especially after Vanderbilt (a 40-0 loss). A loss like that is hard.
“People kept asking me did I not expect it to happen. And I did. It was not like I didn’t expect it, but it is kind of like a surreal thing. You don’t expect yourself to get attached to somebody and then they get fired. Then it is like, ‘Man, what am I going to do now?’ But I¿am not worried about it. It is still a good situation.”
Question: So is it just waiting to see who the new coach is knowing you still have a chance to play quarterback in the SEC?
Phillips: “You can’t control it. I can’t go out and hire somebody. Me and (Signal Mountain) coach (Bill) Price have talked a lot about it. The really good thing is people say if they don’t bring in a system that will fit me, it wouldn’t fit the other quarterbacks because I¿am the exact same as the other quarterbacks, which is a good thing. In the long run, I¿think it will benefit me the best, so I¿am not worried about it.”
Question: What do you think of the returning talent at UK from what you have seen?
Phillips: “They look like good guys with talent. Kentucky is such a young team, it is hard to really evaluate them. They have had some bright spots. I think if (quarterback) Max (Smith) had not gotten hurt so early, they would have picked up some more wins, maybe some SEC wins. But that’s just the way it goes. They had to play Patrick (Towles) and Jalen (Whitlow), young guys who look like they have good personalities. I have heard a lot about them.¿I have heard a lot about Patrick and Max. I don’t know much about everybody else, but I¿am excited to meet them.”
Question: Why does the competition for playing time not bother you?
Phillips: “I remember when I¿committed to Kentucky and people started finding out about Patrick Towles and he was such a big deal and everything. But the biggest thing wherever you go, especially the SEC, there is going to be competition. Some people bring in two quarterbacks a year, so you can’t worry. If you are going to play in the SEC, you look for competition. That’s just the way it is. You are never going to be handed a spot. That is my mindset.”