Teammates say Franks has what it takes to lead Gators

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was responsible for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over the final 13 quarters of last season. He finished the season with 24 touchdown passes, seven rushing scores and six interceptions — the best numbers any Florida QB has posted since 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow graduated more than a decade ago. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

There may be no definitive definition of an Alpha dog, but Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks seems to have a clear vision of what coach Dan Mullen is looking for in a leader.

“I think of a lion,” Franks said. “I think of just a guy that can’t be stopped, won’t be stopped. Just somebody that won’t quit. Somebody that just loves to win, can’t lose and just wants to go out there each and every Saturday and be the ultimate competitor. That’s what I think of when I think Alpha dog, ultimate competitor.

“Someone that’s relentless. Someone that perseveres with whatever gets thrown at (them), somebody that won’t go out without a fight. Somebody that loves to win in everything they do in life.”

Any of his teammates who hear or see Franks’ definition of an Alpha dog probably will tell you Franks is pretty much describing himself.

He’s a competitor. He’s relentless. He’s a fighter, a winner.

He’s shown it in games, in the offseason strength and conditioning program, in players only practice this summer. Now, he’s showing it on the practice field, as the Gators get ready for Saturday’s opener against Miami.

“He’s a competitor. He wants to win,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He’s a guy that’s going to fight until he can’t fight anymore. That’s what I admire about him.

“He’s gotten so much better from a mental standpoint, dealing with social media, fans, things of that nature. Just growing up and being the guy to drive the ship for us. He’s been really good for us and he’s going to continue to be that way.”

Mullen said Monday that he’s still looking for some Alpha dogs to lead this team, so Franks apparently hasn’t quite reached that status yet. But he appears to be getting close, very close.

It’s pretty obvious that his teammates already consider him an Alpha dog, one of the team leaders.

“A guy that we just always look to when we’re in a moment where we’re down or something like that,” senior running back Lamical Perine said. “He’s just a guy who is always going to make sure everybody’s up. He’s a high-intensity guy that gives it his all all the time. A guy that has been in big-time games and things like. You can always look to a guy like that. He’s not a phony. He’s not somebody that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a guy who’s been in this program three or four years and he’s been productive.

“I feel like he’s always had that (Alpha dog) in him. For you to be an Alpha dog you have to go through things, just go through trials and tribulations, you have to have downfalls of being an Alpha dog. So, he’s been through that and he’s been successful, so he’s not afraid to win and lose.”

Franks has evolved as a leader over the past year. At the same time, he’s evolved as a player, showing sure and steady improvement since he’s been under Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.

That improvement apparently has accelerated over the past six-plus months, which likely only will strengthen his leadership role.

“He’s already improved more during the offseason than he did throughout last season on the field,” Mullen said. “In his performance and understanding the system and decision making and making plays. It is the big picture of the quarterback.

“It’s every intangible that comes with that. How do you manage the game? Your decision making, your leadership, your mental and physical toughness. All of those are aspects of things at the quarterback position that I think he’s taking huge strides at.”

Franks also has started to master the intangibles off the field, Mullen said.

“I’ve seen him do all the off the field stuff at a much, much higher level. It’s greater improvement from January to now than all of last season,” he said. “With the leadership, we’ll see how he’s going to handle the highs and lows and the adversity that we’re going to face, whether it’s adversity of success or adversity of defeat, and how we handle all of that in between.”

Franks’ teammates consider him a leader and seem willing to follow him into the battles ahead. Senior wide receiver Van Jefferson said the fans will understand why over the course of this season, starting with Saturday night’s opener against Miami in Orlando.

“His game is going to be phenomenal,” Jefferson said. “He’s going to have a great year. He’s been putting in the work all summer. He’s been on our tails all summer. His season is going to be crazy.

“You’re really going to see a different quarterback in Feleipe. He’s going to do great things. I have no doubt in my mind. He’s confident all the way around. He’s going to go out there and just blow everybody’s mind away. ”

Sounds like something an Alpha dog would do.


Saturday

Who: Florida vs. Miami

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

22 COMMENTS

  1. Alpha Dogs. Just seems like a poor description for a team whose biggest most hated rival is a dog. Alpha Gator works just fine.

    But seriously, I hope both the fans and Franks find a happy place with each other this season. There have been some frosty moments over the last 2 years from both sides.

  2. I am excited and happy for Franks. He was victimized with a lot of terrible coaching from the Quarterpounder Whisperer– not just in game, but all the mental stuff he is now learning from Mullen and company. I even remember SOS saying back in the years BCDM that he thought Franks could be good if he just got some coaching. He now sounds like he has matured and developed the mentality and skills to go along with his talent. Mullen is a proven master when it comes to developing QBs, and it looks like Franks is ready to step forward and become the latest to triumph.

  3. I’d say they are missing one very important trait. Something that some of the military guys will know outright. There are type A (alphas) they are your best competitors, they are fit, they are knowledgeable, they know how and when to do things and do so without being told. That is still lacking one important trait and that is leadership. A guy that has the Alpha traits that also possess the innate leadership traits is a dangerous person in sport. Tebow had the passion and leadership that was infectious with his teammates. In the military that is what some possess that will have others follow them somewhere their minds are saying this is not a place to be. In sport we have seen this in pro teams like Rogers, Brees, Brady and many more. There are two circles of leadership on a team. The coaches who teach and lead but the team leaders the ones that have accepted the accountability, the yoke of leader is lonely and at times alienating to ones peers but if they have that trust and the traits are there those around will follow as a cohesive team and can do some amazing things. Many here have picked on UCF but Milton was that type and they appear to have one other necessity a few other leaders to pick up if that Alpha dog goes down. CDM appears to be building a team on the right leadership path. Franks either has that leadership trait or he doesn’t but if he learns enough about leading he can be the guy they rally behind and take this team to new heights. Tebow had flaws in his game that he overcame with that natural leadership and determination (I still think he could have done well beyond college) Franks has the physical attributes to be great, if his leadership traits are there he will be much better than last season. If he can (debated here) or has developed some intuitive skills he may end up being a Gator Great. What a difference having a real coach/teacher/mentor team can make.

    • Bingo, 65. In the K-9 world, an alpha dog is the top dog, with the expectation of getting his way in all matters K-9, his preferences being catered to otherwise he will kick the other dogs asses until they fall in line. That works just fine until some other dog either has enough of it or perhaps is new, and kicks the alpha dog’s ass. And so on, such being the way of the “pack”. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that in virtually everything else, dogs are a lot smarter than humans — but this is not one of them.

      Instead, we organize into “tribes” and learn to use persuasion and, dare I say it — leadership — to get others to comport to our expectations. Failing that, we can always kick somebody’s ass, but we understand that it may also result in getting our own ass kicked. Hence, we developed between tribes the concept of “peace”. When that doesn’t work, we resort to “intimidation”, to wit, engraving our Zippo lighters with such sayings as, “Yea tho I walk thru the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil because I am the baddest SOB in the valley”. If that doesn’t work, we go to war with another tribe, restore cave dwelling as an acceptable way of life in their former region, after which we spend billions of dollars on them to rebuild their former tribal area and everyone lives happily ever after until the next time.

      On second thought, dogs really are smarter than humans. But Pompano Gator and Hogtowngator1 are exactly right just the same.

    • Well 65, here’s to hoping Feleipe Franks uncovers Paradise Found, as in an SEC championship and at least a CFP opportunity. Is it enough to be shooting blank(s verse) at such an unsophisticated foe as da U? No, I say.

      Miami might want to seek retribution in ’24 and ’25, but they will be totally addled by their huge loss in ’19, thinking there’s no rhyme or reason why they actually lost to the Mighty Gators, and they will ask themselves about Milton, then begin looking for an explanation of “why the poem rhymes not” and how did we get our arses kicked?

    • 65 you are right. Franks explanation of what he thinks an Alpha is, that Mullen wants, is lacking. Mullen said it himself, an alpha has a natural leadership that others follow. Now I only care that he executes better than last year. I really dont expect him to do what Tebow could and elavate the play of the team. It would be real nice but that is expecting too much! He either has it or not and so far, not. So , again, I just hope he plays at a much higher level this year and I will be pleased. from the sound of Mullen’s comments and his team mates he will play at a higher level.

    • Hogtown, I hope you’re right! If so, it will be the stuff of legend despite being a Florida quarterback. Meaning that it will be hard to deny, as much as the media may try. By the Eternal! They may just have to rewrite their predetermined narrative after all.

  4. We will know how far FF has come when he faces adversity. In the NC game against the Sooners, we were on a drive and TT tossed and INT, but Oklahoma did not score off the turnover. Then TT led the O to a TD.

    Franks needs to be able to do the same, as well as our D getting his back.

    Go Gators!

  5. Franks has done the work and made steady improvements in his total game.
    Mullen is the QB whisperer and the developer of NFL QB talent.
    Look to Franks to lead this team and get in faces when needed.
    Miami will be his first test this year. Look for a breakout game by Franks.
    A statement is coming. Gators 35-17.