UK Football

Kentucky QB Phillips says he will transfer

Kentucky's Reese Phillips (12) handed off the ball to Braylon Heard (5) in the first quarter of the Kentucky at Tennessee football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 15, 2014. Tennessee led 33-13 at halftime.
Kentucky's Reese Phillips (12) handed off the ball to Braylon Heard (5) in the first quarter of the Kentucky at Tennessee football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 15, 2014. Tennessee led 33-13 at halftime. Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky quarterback Reese Phillips announced his plans to transfer to another school via Twitter late Thursday night.

“The last 3 years have meant everything to me,” Phillips tweeted. “I’ve decided to transfer to keep playing. I will always love you #BBN.”

His departure leaves UK with just one quarterback on the roster with any playing experience in redshirt freshman Drew Barker, whom Coach Mark Stoops said will be the top quarterback when practice starts this spring.

Phillips’ departure comes roughly a month after quarterback Patrick Towles announced his intentions to play his final season elsewhere. The redshirt junior, who graduated last week, said he plans to go to Boston College for his final season of eligibility.

Phillips, a 6-foot-2 sophomore quarterback from Signal Mountain, Tenn., missed spring practice after injuring his Achilles’ tendon and did not throw a pass this season, but he did serve as holder for much of the season.

As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Phillips played in three games, completing two of nine pass attempts with an interception.

When asked if Phillips was healthy enough to give Barker a significant push in the spring, Stoops said he was.

“It will be really good to see Reese fully healthy, a little bit older,” the head coach said in an interview with the Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Both coordinators have both said over the years that Reese really had a good understanding of the offense and could always manage and operate the offense very well.”

Phillips’ exit leaves the Cats with just Barker, who completed 50 percent of his passes in five games this season with two starts (35 for 70) including two interceptions and a touchdown. He had 364 passing yards as well as 45 yards rushing.

The redshirt freshman struggled in the second half of the season finale against Louisville, connecting on one of his final 15 passes for minus-1 yards.

When spring practice starts in April, Barker will be working with his third offensive coordinator/position coach in as many seasons after UK announced it had parted ways with Shannon Dawson after one year.

High school quarterback Gunnar Hoak will join UK as a true freshman for the 2016 season. Hoak , a 6-foot-4, 190-pound prospect from Dublin, Ohio, is ranked by ESPN as a four-star recruit and the No. 14 pocket-passing QB in the class of 2016.

Hoak will graduate from high school in December and enroll at UK for the spring semester, which will allow him to participate in spring practice with the Wildcats. He completed 114 of 206 passes for 1,811 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.

UK already has two commitments from quarterbacks in the class of 2017: Florida’s Mac Jones and Lexington native Walker Wood, who could switch positions when he gets to college.

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