Joker makes changes to UK staff

ccosby@herald-leader.comJanuary 9, 2010 

Joker Phillips was officially introduced as Kentucky's head football coach on Wednesday and has already made at least one major change on his coaching staff. He informed offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins that he will not be returning in 2010.

WKYT-27 reported that Phillips also will not retain defensive line coach Rick Petri.

Heggins, who came to UK in 2005 after a 19-year stint as an assistant at Florida State under Bobby Bowden, confirmed the decision Friday morning.

"(Phillips) just said he had decided to go in a different direction," Heggins said. "I'm going to hang around (Lexington) for a while and see what I can do as far as getting a job somewhere."

Petri, who also joined the UK staff in 2005, wouldn't confirm that he'd been let go when contacted late Thursday night but sounded like a man ready to move on.

"I really don't know what's out there at this point, so I'm not at liberty to say anything at the present time," he said.

UK fielded perhaps its best offensive line of the Rich Brooks era in 2009, and Petri has overseen a unit that has produced a pair of NFL Draft picks in Myron Pryor and Jeremy Jarmon and figures to have a third player (Corey Peters) in the league next year.

But Phillips said recruiting will be his No. 1 priority, and the moves could be setting the table to bring in a couple of top-notch recruiters.

Three other holdovers from Rich Brooks' staff, tight ends/special teams coach Steve Ortmayer, defensive coordinator Steve Brown and secondary coach Chris Thurmond, all said this week that they planned on being back in 2010.

It's been assumed that Ortmayer would retire at the same time as Brooks, considering the two have worked together for years and are longtime friends.

But Ortmayer said he had no plans to retire this year. Brown said he spoke with Phillips last week and felt good about his chances of returning. Thurmond had hip replacement surgery on Thursday but also said he expected to be on the staff next season.

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