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Florida hires former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)

It didn't take Joker Phillips long to find another job.

The former Kentucky head coach landed at No. 4 Florida on Monday, joining the Gators as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Phillips will begin work Friday.

''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,'' Muschamp said in a statement. ''Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting. Obviously, I had a number of experiences with Joker both on and off the field, as our paths have crossed often, but I've been really impressed with Joker Phillips as a man during this hiring process.''

Kentucky fired Phillips on Nov. 4. He went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky, including 0-8 in SEC play this year.

Phillips played at Kentucky (1981-84) and was on the football staff from 1988 to 1996. He returned to his alma mater as offensive coordinator in 2003, and then became the second black coach in SEC history in 2010.

His resume also includes stops at South Carolina (2002), Notre Dame (2001), Minnesota (1999-2000) and Cincinnati (1997-98). He coached receivers at each of those schools, working with Ron Johnson, Javin Hunter, David Givens, Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson, Dicky Lyons, Jr. and Derek Abney.

''I'm thrilled to become part of the Gator family,'' Phillips said in a statement. ''I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete and win at the highest level. I believe in coach Muschamp's philosophy, and what he has done in his short time here at Florida is phenomenal. I'm looking forward to contributing to the long-term vision that he has for this program. In addition, it will be very rewarding to be involved in the hands-on development of the players I will coach.''

Former receivers coach Aubrey Hill left Florida in early August amid an NCAA investigation that involved his coaching tenure at Miami. Muschamp promoted graduate assistant Bush Hamdan to receivers coach, but said last week that he planned to hire someone to fill the position full time.

The Gators (11-1) surely need some help, too.

Tight end Jordan Reed leads Florida with 44 receptions for 552 yards. Receivers Quinton Dunbar (31-306, 4 TDs) and Frankie Hammond Jr. (20-273, 3 TDs) have been mostly inconsistent, while Andre Debose and Latroy Pittman have been non-factors.

Tagged: Florida, Kentucky

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