Although we didn’t get to see it while he was head coach at Kentucky, Joker Phillips has turned into a recruiting machine since becoming wide-receivers coach for the Florida Gators. It seems like players that Joker would’ve overlooked (or made minimal effort to recruit) while head coach at UK (such as Drew Barker, Ryan Timmons, Matt Elam, Jason Hatcher, etc.) are some of his main targets since becoming a coach for the Gators.
This complete shift in recruiting strategy has understandably made a lot of Kentucky fans angry, if nothing else for the fact that Phillips could easily be supplied with the talent for 100 college football teams by recruiting Florida alone. But instead he chooses to try and snatch the handful of division-one players that his home state does produce, knowingly hurting his alma-mater’s recruiting (which he left in dire straits) in the process.
The bad news is that he’s not done just yet. Phillips is now trying to swoop in and take one of the highest-rated players that Kentucky has ever produced–five-star Madison Southern running back Damien Harris. Harris took an unofficial-visit to Florida this past weekend, and posed for a picture with Joker—who seems to have suddenly found his recruiting energy rejuvenated since arriving in Gainesville.
Given his track record of not pursuing high-profile players while head coach in Lexington, it’s doubtful that Joker or his staff would’ve recruited Harris had they still been at UK.