Ex-Cats

Ex-Cat to seek sixth year of eligibility after gruesome injury

Injured quarterback Reese Phillips, center, gave his Montana teammates a pregame speech before they took the field against North Dakota in Missoula, Mont., on Oct. 14. Phillips suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the year.
Injured quarterback Reese Phillips, center, gave his Montana teammates a pregame speech before they took the field against North Dakota in Missoula, Mont., on Oct. 14. Phillips suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the year. AP

Reese Phillips, the former Kentucky backup quarterback whose quest to become a starter took him to Montana only to see him suffer a gruesome leg injury in his third start, has announced he will seek a sixth year of eligibility.

“With my injury coming along quicker than expected, I’ve decided to try for a 6th year,” Phillips posted on Twitter on Thursday. “I love the game too much to not at least try.”

Phillips, a 6-foot-2 redshirt senior from Chattanooga, Tenn., was recruited to Kentucky by then offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. Sanders and the entire Joker Phillips staff was fired before his arrival in 2013.

He redshirted, then lost out on the starting job to Patrick Towles the next year. After he ruptured his Achilles tendon before spring practice and saw UK fire offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson after the 2015 season, he decided to transfer to Montana where he spent one year as a backup before earning the starting job last fall.

Phillips threw for 381 yards and four TDs in Montana’s season-opening win against Valparaiso. He was held to 123 yards passing and no TDs in a Week 2 loss at Washington. The next time out, on Sept. 16, he completed his first 13 passes for 148 yards as Montana jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Savannah State before the injury.

“I felt that it was about to happen, basically,” Phillips told the Montana campus newspaper’s Jackson Wagner in a profile story posted Oct. 10. “I was falling forward and just knew it was coming because I could not move my foot. It was just stuck and I was falling forward like, ‘S---.’ Right when I went down it all popped and I felt it all.”

Phillips was in surgery for three hours as doctors repaired a fibula broken in three places. He also ruptured all the ligaments in his ankle, which was dislocated at a 180 degree angle and put back into place on the field.

The next day, he tweeted: “Coming to Montana was/is the best decision of my life. I've never felt so much love and support. The best teammates, coaches and fans around.”

To earn a sixth season of eligibility, Phillips will have to apply for a medical redshirt. By suffering a season-ending injury before he completed his third game of the season, he appears to qualify.

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