Joker Phillips resigns, Chris Leak to coach Gators’ receivers

Former Gators quarterback Chris Leak returned to the school in 2013 to be an offensive graduate assistant.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced the resignation of receivers coach Joker Phillips on Wednesday.

In the wake of Phillips’ departure, former Gators quarterback Chris Leak will take over as receivers coach. Leak returned to UF in May 2013 and moves from his role as an offensive graduate assistant.

Phillips joined the Gators in December 2012 after spending the previous three seasons as head coach at Kentucky. Phillips had a 13-24 record at his alma mater and was replaced by Mark Stoops after a 2-10 record in 2012.

"I’m thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons,” Phillips said.

Added Muschamp: "I appreciate Joker’s contributions to our program and wish him and his wife, Leslie, nothing but the best in the future."

Meanwhile, Leak inherits a young group of receivers led by senior Quinton Dunbar, who finished with 40 catches for 548 yards in 2013. Sophomore Ahmad Fulwood, who had 17 receptions as a freshman, and fellow sophomores Chris Thompson and Demarcus Robinson offer depth.

Sixth-year senior Andre Debose also returns.

"I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Muschamp has given me and my family," said Leak. "It’s an honor to be coaching at my alma mater where I have so many fond memories both on and off the field. We have a tremendous coaching staff, a great group of players and a support system in place and I’m excited to be a part of it."

Leak is best-known for playing quarterback at UF from 2003-06. He led the Gators to a national title his senior season and embarked on a professional career. After finishing as a player in the Arena Football League, Leak opted to return to his alma mater to pursue a coaching career.

He worked extensively with first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper in the spring as Roper installed a new no-huddle, up-tempo offense.

"Chris is a bright young coach," said Muschamp. "He is one of the all-time Gator greats and being at Florida is very important to him. He has been working with Coach Roper and our offensive staff and is very familiar with our players and new system."