Confident Franks transitioning to leadership role

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks throws during the second practice of the spring Thursday at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

One would think redshirt junior quarterback Feleipe Franks, whose curly locks add another inch to his 6-foot-6 frame, would have little trouble feeling like the big man on campus.

Yet Franks admitted that’s been anything but the case. Instead, his three years at Florida have been wrought with unrealistic expectations, subsequent disappointment and, most recently, gradual improvement.

“I just try to play my part. Definitely try to lead people in the right direction,” Franks said. “I’ve always tried to be level-headed, even when things are not going my way.”

With much to prove last season, Franks struggled early despite showing signs of promise, leading coach Dan Mullen to consistently evaluate the quarterback room. However, during a critical stretch in early November, with a third consecutive loss looking likely, Franks — and Florida’s offense as a whole — turned a corner.

Ever since, it feels as if the Gators have yet to slow down.

“I think it was a turning point for our whole team. Just the momentum that we brought into that game, coming back from that big deficit, having that turning point and being able to get that momentum going into the next couple games and just finish out the season the right way, I think it just helped us, all those games just helped us with the momentum coming into this offseason,” Franks said. “Guys coming in with more confidence. It all plays a big role into a player’s development.”

Franks, who finished the 2018 season with 2,457 passing yards and 24 touchdowns, would know, as he’s more often than not been transparent when it comes to his early struggles.

“Like I said, I’ve had a bumpy road since I’ve been here. People learn from my wrongs,” Franks said. “It hasn’t been like a lot of people’s — like it’s hasn’t been straight success, mine has been kind of bumpy — but ultimately that’s what makes me who I am. It humbled me. Coming out of high school, a big recruit and then coming here and not doing too good when I first got here, to now — it just humbled me, matured me at a young age. It continues to mature me and helps me become a better player. Learning from what I did wrong in the past ultimately is helping me become a better quarterback each and every day.”

Now in his fourth Spring, Franks is one of Florida’s veterans. In turn, he’s making the transition to leader and making sure the latest crop of Gators can learn from his experiences.

“I’ve always been the big kid. But it’s kind of settling down now, just trying to help. When it’s my turn to leave Florida, I just want to leave it better than when I came,” Franks said. “That’s ultimately what I want to do and just help the younger guys. So when it’s their time to hit the field and I’m gone, I have something to come back and watch and it’s always something fun to watch. Just trying to be a helpful person, be a leader.”

A more comfortable Franks is a better Franks, say those who’ve watched him toil. Now, for Florida to reach its lofty goals in Mullen’s second season at the helm, Franks will have to once again take his game to the next level.

“Just more comfortable in the offense. Great quarterback. He’s able to make a lot of checks that he didn’t make last year. So I feel like he’s very comfortable throwing the ball there with all the receivers,” senior running back La’Mical Perine said of Franks. “All the receivers we got right now, we had last year. So he’s pretty comfortable.”


Up next

What: UF football practice open to the public

When: TBD, March 23

Where: Sanders Practice Fields on UF campus. Bleachers will be set up on the east side along the Indoor Practice Facility. Fans can congregate on the east and south sides to watch practice.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Exceptional article. Not to quibble, tho, I would argue that if he wins the starting job, which is really a good bet anyway, then he IS the leader. No “transition”; he has been the leader — sometimes a good one and sometimes a not so good one — but truthfully the role has already been thrust upon him. He either emerges to the level set by the Gator greats, approaches it, or falls short.

    Frank’s previous shortcomings can largely be attributed to a deficit in coaching. Now with proper coaching, he comes into his own. God knows, the kid has the heart and character to be great. I’m putting my money on him.

    • Whew 6 your money this time. I agree he is likely the starter barring anything crazy leading to the 24th of August. Decision making and making the passes that require spatial relation and knowing your man is there while knowing where the defenders are. He can still improve and win games but I want to see him or any of our QB’s have all the tools and know when to use them. We are still in a very structured environment for our QB in having limited plays that suit their current abilities. If he gets to that next level (CDM can if he has the ability) We will be better and we might surprise some this year in the out come. Of course the rest of the team has to gel and perform as FF is not able to carry the team on his skills alone. At least he hasn’t demonstrated that leadership YET. Sometimes in the darkest of times one rises to the top that was unexpected. FF has had some dark days and so far started to rise. Will he , can he fully take the reins? I have always liked the kid just think he got a raw deal in coaching. I hope this year he makes the leap but if he cannot we are now in a great position with a QB room with a huge upside in potential.

      • Based on most reports coming out from Spring, especially on Twitter with some of the videos and stuff that have been posted, Franks is a different QB. Everyone seems to be claiming that his touch has improved greatly, as has his command of the offense. Most people are reporting that he’s unquestionably the starter and it isn’t even close. He’s supposedly even added 10 lbs of muscle, which would put him at 250lbs. Good luck tackling that. It sounds like he’s turned the corner and is primed for a huge season. August can’t get here soon enough.

  2. Honestly, I think he’s done pretty well with the leadership part (my opinion is based on limited knowledge because I’m not in the locker room). He seems to have the team’s respect. He admits when he’s not done well and doesn’t blame someone. He is obviously maturing. To me, his biggest need for growth is the X’s and O’s. How to read the game and opponent and know quickly what to do. He’s got the size and arm, he just needs to continue to improve on what to do with it. At this point, he’s got my respect.

  3. I largely agree with the comments above. I have always thought Felipe is a hard worker and a guy who embraces the leadership role. Good guy who has persevered through a lot. That’s not his problem. Coaching yes. He has gotten better under Coach Mullen and I think will continue. His biggest issue to me may be something you can’t coach as well: vision. He just doesn’t seem to see the field well at times. The bowl game was a perfect example, when he missed a wide open Toney 8 yards away from him in the end zone . He is sometimes like a point guard who dribbles with his head down. Maybe that’s a coaching issue or a good coach can help drill him on things that will improve that. We’ll see. But I love his loyalty to his teammates and to being a Gator.

    • He’s been criticized a lot for that play, but even Brock Huard made a comment during the telecast that that would’ve been a very difficult throw to make. He was running full speed away from defenders to the right and would’ve had to throw it back across his body to his left. Who knows, maybe he did see him and just decided he didn’t want to risk making that throw. I’m pretty sure only Mahomes and maybe Rodgers could’ve made it. Hopefully the mistakes he was making last season can be chalked up to learning a new offense and not really knowing where everyone is on the field. He should have the offense down this year and know where everyone is supposed to be. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one, but most reports from Spring are indicating that he’s got complete command of the offense.

  4. IF the Gator OL comes together and doesn’t regress from where they ended last season, IF the Gator running game improves on last season’s performance, IF the coaching staff develops a reliable TE, and IF the defense improves on last year’s performance… THEN, a bigger, stronger, more experienced Feleipe Franks, more committed to running the ball when situations call for it, will be more effective than he was last season and, at times even remind us of Tim Terrific.

    IF ALL those IFs come true, the Gators should be good enough to compete with the likes of LSU and UGA (not sure about Bama.) However, expect Franks to STILL force passes into covered receivers and STILL miss wide open receivers.

    As MKF pointed out above, it’s the “vision” thing. Franks just doesn’t have “vision” and like WRs and DBs’ 4.4 forty speed, “vision” in a QB is something that CAN be refined, but CAN’T be taught.

    Go Gators!!!

    • We speak of a “ceiling” for Franks, but the truth is that by age 21-22 there probably are neurological limits to an individual’s processing speed — nothing at all to do with intelligence or even character — but there’s still room for “refinement” and that is in fact the word I’ve been struggling to find c regard to him. Thanks!

  5. When Franks’ performance was subpar – he received justifiable criticism. When his performance improved, the fans warmed up to him but he was still angry and frustrated over the past criticism. Hopefully he has matured and put the past criticism behind him. I believe the fans really like him now and are really supporting him. At the end of the season we saw the first vertical passing attack in 8 years. I believe Franks has a terrific complement of skill players, and first downs and touchdowns will no longer be a hope and a prayer but rather an expectation on every offensive series.