By LARRY VAUGHT
4:33 AM AKST, December 16, 2012
Not only did high school quarterback Reese Phillips like new Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown when he met him last week, but so did his parents and high school coach.
“He’s a nice guy, and my coach loves him and so do my parents,” Phillips said. “He definitely runs a system that I can fit into and succeed in, and that was very exciting to me.”
Phillips, who is from Signal Mountain, Tenn., admits he rarely watched Texas Tech play — “I seldom watch anything other than SEC games, so I didn’t know much about him,” he said — during the last three years when Brown was offensive coordinator there. He says he was a bit apprehensive and nervous to meet Brown and see how he would fit into his plans, since he committed to Kentucky under the previous coaching staff.
“He was very down to earth, kind of soft spoken, but in a good way,” Phillips said. “He really connected with my parents. They liked how confident he was and how he talked highly of me. My parents had a couple of questions for him, but really they just listened to what he had to say. They asked about academics, but mainly they let him talk and got all their questions answered that way.”
Phillips admitted it had been a “rough last month,” with Kentucky ending a 2-10 season and coach Joker Phillips and his staff being fired. Now new coach Mark Stoops has put together a young, aggressive staff that has seemed to revitalize the fan base.
“I have definitely sensed that type of turnaround in the last month,” Reese Phillips said. “I definitely have felt the excitement come back. The Stoops hire was such a big hire, but the pieces he is putting around him is even more impressive. With the Stoops name, there are so many good recruiting spots to go to, and I am just happy to be part of it.”
Brown also did one thing that Phillips was not expecting.
“He apologized for everything that has gone on the last month and said he understood what I was going through,” Phillips said. “That was a very cool thing. He’s just a good person. That much is very obvious. Once I finally met him, I was not nervous at all.”
Phillips was recently voted most valuable offensive player on his team in the Toyota East-West Tennessee All-Star Classic at Tennessee Tech.. He was 10 for 10 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown in the East’s 41-20 win. He will also play in the National Guard Border Bowl on Jan. 12 in Williamsburg.
He will graduate this week and plans on being at Kentucky in January for the second semester to start learning Brown’s offense along with returning quarterbacks Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow.
“It’s an even bigger benefit now to be there in January,” Phillips said. “It would be almost stupid not to be there. The opportunity to compete and learn whether I play next year or get redshirted is huge. Either way I get to learn the offense when everybody else does.”
Brown briefly discussed the playbook with Phillips during his visit to Tennessee, and Phillips has watched videos of Brown’s offense.
“Anything you do new will be hard, especially coming from the wing-T offense like we ran. It will be a big transition for him, but his offense is something I can easily fit into,” Phillips said. “His quarterbacks put up big numbers, and I like that.”
Phillips also said Brown did not mention that Kentucky is recruiting another quarterback.
“I am expecting I will be the only quarterback in our recruiting class,” he said.
Warford honored again: Offensive lineman Larry Warford has earned his second All-America honor of the season, as Phil Steele’s College Football named him a third-team All-American. The senior was earlier named a third-team All-American by The Associated Press.
Warford became the first UK offensive lineman to earn All-America status since Mike Pfeifer, who received first-team recognition from Football News and Mizlou in 1989, and the first to receive the honor from the AP since Warren Bryant earned second-team honors in 1976. He is the 12th offensive lineman to earn All-America honors in school history.
Warford did not allow a sack all year, grading at 90.3 percent for the season and totaling 48 knockdown blocks.
He ended his career having played in 47 games with 37 consecutive starts. The senior was named SEC co-offensive lineman of the week after Kentucky’s win over Kent State, handling blocking responsibilities on star lineman Roosevelt Nix, collecting eight knockdown blocks and graded out at 91.7 percent while limiting Nix to only two assisted tackles.
Quick wins Hornung award: James Quick, a Kentucky recruiting target from Louisville’s Trinity High School who was visited by Brown last week, has been named recipient of the 20th annual Paul Hornung Award presented to Kentucky's top high school player by the Louisville Quarterback Club.
A versatile, three-sport high school star athlete in the mode of Hornung, Quick is the all-time leading receiver in Kentucky high school football history with 280 receptions. He is the only Kentucky prep player to play on football and basketball state championship teams in the same season (2011-12). He’s also the defending state champion and record holder in the boys Class AAA 200-meter dash.
Quick scored touchdowns in four championship games and helped lead Trinity to football titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He finished the 2012 season with 85 receptions for 1,413 yards and 16 touchdowns and ranks third in career touchdowns with 57 and career receiving yards with 4,437.
He was recently named Gatorade Kentucky Football Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. A first-team ESPN.com All-American in 2011, he also has been chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-America Game in San Antonio next month and is one of the favorites for the state's Mr. Football award.
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