The intense competition at quarterback appears to be bringing out the best in redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks.
“Oh, it’s a different Feleipe from last year,” senior slot receiver Brandon Powell said Tuesday. “He comes to practice with energy. Even on the bus he’s talking about plays he’s going to make, and then you get on the field and it’s just a whole different dude. I’ve been liking the Feleipe I’ve been seeing this whole camp.”
Powell certainly liked what he saw from Franks in last Friday’s scrimmage — a strike to him for a long touchdown reception.
Franks has emerged as a leader in camp, along with Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire and Luke Del Rio, last year’s starter.
“Last year you probably couldn’t hear a word from Feleipe. But now it’s like he never shuts up,” Powell said. “That’s the same with Malik, too. Luke, all the quarterbacks. I love it, everybody comes to compete every day.”
Junior offensive tackle Martez Ivey said the biggest change he’s seen in Franks is his confidence.
“He’s more confident,” Ivey said. “He’s hard working now, more than he’s ever been since the competition came in with Malik Zaire. He’s just been working hard and he’s just a whole different Feleipe Franks than last year. He’s poised. He keeps his calm. He doesn’t get rattled.”
Ivey and Powell said the players are enjoying the close competition between the quarterbacks.
“They’re all doing a great job right now,” Ivey said. “The coaches do a really good job of rotating them in and mixing it up. When they’re in, they all have the same poise, the same confidence. They all bring the same thing to the table. They’re out there competing, fighting for a job.”
Naming a starter is going to be a tough call for coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, Powell said.
“They all have been making the right throws,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard decision to decide who’s going to be the starting quarterback.
“We talk about it, but at the end of the day, it’s not our choice. I’m comfortable with all of them, so whoever coach chooses, obviously he knows more than us.”
Ivey predicted it will be a while before the Gators know who the starter is for the opener.
“We probably won’t know until game week,” he said. “I don’t know, it might be a game-time decision. I don’t know.”