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By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman quarterback Reese Phillips graduate from Signal Mountain (Tenn.) High School in December so he could enroll at Kentucky and go through offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s first spring practice with the Wildcats. Phillips completed 172 of 274 passes for 2,274 yards and 15 scores with just three interceptions his senior season and was named the MVP of the Tennessee High School East/West All-Star Classic after going 10-for-10 for 95 yards and a touchdown.
He offered his insights into his play, the quarterback competition and more after practice Friday.
Question: How has spring practice been for you?
Phillips: “It has gone pretty well. It has been a big adjustment, but I have got used to it somewhat any way. It is a big learning curve, but it has gone well.”
Question: How different is it to think you could still be in high school getting ready for maybe prom and instead you are competing with SEC athletes?
Phillips: “It is a little bit different for sure. If I was home right now, I probably wouldn’t be doing anything but out getting ready for prom maybe, so you are right about that. It is a big change, but it is good for me. It is hard, but it will pay off.”
Question: Has it been as hard academically and socially as it has been athletically?
Phillips: “They all kind of mesh together. Academically, my grades are good but it is different as far as lecture halls and stuff like that. I am not used to anything like that yet. Socially, everybody up here is real nice. I have met a lot of friends and people. It is different because all my best friends are at home, but it all kind of meshes together.”
Question: Do you feel you came in equal with returning quarterbacks because they had to learn new coordinator Neal Brown’s offense just like you did?
Phillips: “That’s the thing I have noticed is that everything is new, but still the speed of the game and stuff like that … even though Pat (Towles) and Jalen (Whitlow) have just been here a year, the still have had experience. As far as the material, we all ask each other questions because that is all new. As far as experience, it is definitely different.”
Question: What is easiest and hardest about coach Brown’s system?
Phillips: “It is pretty easy to understand. It’s not like the concepts are real hard or anything. The hardest part is the tempo. I went fast in high school, but it was huddle. I am not used to no-huddle. That is the biggest difference just the tempo.”
Question: Are you anxious to see what happens when other freshmen arrive in June, especially with a lot of skilled guys arriving?
Phillips: “Coach Brown says for us and some older guys we get four weeks of spring practice to prove ourselves and then those guys get two weeks in the summer to get a spot or whatever. The summer will be very important. Those guys are very skilled and can play. It will be up to them to get going.”
Question: Do you think a redshirt year is likely for you?
Phillips: “Probably. I don’t ever have that kind of mindset, but realistically yes. I am very realistic person. If I am redshirting, even being in a stadium watching someone else play is an experience. I might not be out there, but obviously playing in front of 70,000 people is a lot different than 3,000. That is an experience in itself.”
Question: What will the Blue-White Game Saturday with maybe 30,000 to 40,000 fans be like for you?
Phillips: “I am excited. Obviously it is different. I do get nervous before stuff like that, but I will be fun. Just relax and have fun. That’s what it is all about.”
Question: Will you have a lot of people from home come to the game?
Phillips: “Yeah. Actually I tweeted that probably half of the attendance will be my family and friends. Everyone is coming. I am excited and they are excited.”