Feleipe Franks isn’t about to wave the white flag just yet.
The Florida redshirt freshman quarterback, speaking Wednesday at UF’s Media Day, isn’t about to surrender the starting quarterback role to anyone. Not after how long and hard he’s prepared for the opportunity to lead UF’s offense.
“I approach every day as if I’m the starter,” Franks said. “That’s all I can do: control what I do.”
In the 18 months since he arrived in Gainesville from Crawfordville, Franks said he’s become “a completely different player and person,” one who is ready to lead an SEC program. A three-year starter at Wakulla High, Franks’ year in a reserve role helped him to continue developing mentally and physically while observing the ins and outs of the position by watching upperclassmen quarterbacks Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby.
While redshirting his freshman year was always a reasonable expectation, it’s likely the former four-star prospect didn’t anticipate Florida adding two transfer quarterbacks in back-to-back seasons.
So it would be understandable for Franks to be frustrated by the offseason arrival of another upperclassmen signal caller in Malik Zaire, who enrolled at UF in June from Notre Dame.
Quite the contrary, in fact.
“It only makes everybody better,” Franks said about the addition of Zaire. “Ultimately, it’s going to bring the best player out to play.”
Franks knows that’s what matters most: having an efficient quarterback, who could make-or-break a program looking to return to Atlanta for a third consecutive SEC Championship Game. Understanding the coaching staff needs to start the quarterback with the best chance to win comes before Franks’ personal goals.
“I’m going to compete no matter what, no matter who they bring in,” Franks said. “It just brings out a little fire from me.”
But Franks makes it clear the addition of Zaire is not an indictment of his talent level. He hasn’t seen a lack of faith from the coaching staff, and he understands the staff has a responsibility to stock the roster with as much talent as possible. Those under the belief that Zaire’s addition will define Florida’s success at the position are writing off two quarterback signees who have yet to even step foot on the field for the Gators.
“I can only control what I can do, and I can’t control what the coaches or the rest of the country thinks,” Franks said. “I’m approaching every day as itself and not focusing on the next day, or worrying about what anyone else is doing. I’m going to just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Considering the fan base hasn’t seen a formidable successful offense for nearly a decade, Franks understands the scrutiny that comes with the position. If you ask him, however, he’ll tell you the Gators have several quarterbacks ready to compete for any program in the country.
“We have some really good players and we’ve worked hard over the summer,” Franks said. “I think we’re going to have a really good offense this year, I really do.”