In Feleipe Franks’ history class, the professor has a trophy that he will hand out to a student who makes an enlightening comment or gives a good answer to a difficult question.
On Monday, the UF professor greeted Franks to class by presenting him the trophy.
“He just gave me the trophy out of nowhere today at the start of class,” the Florida redshirt freshman quarterback said. “That was kind of funny.
“He just told me, ‘Good throw.’ That’s kind of how class started.”
The good throw, of course, was Franks’ 63-yard TD strike to wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland on the game’s final play Saturday that made the Gators 26-20 winners over SEC East rival Tennessee.
On Monday, Franks started sensing the impact his play has had on the Florida campus, starting with the trophy presentation in his U.S. History class. He’s become an instant celebrity.
“No, no, no, no,” Franks said, when asked if he received a standing ovation in any of his classes. “But I got a couple of stares. People were staring at me and it was kind of awkward.
“Other students around campus will say something now and then.”
Franks seems almost uncomfortable with the attention he’s getting
“I’m a really low-key, under-the-radar guy,” he said.
And, besides, Franks is ready to file away last Saturday’s game — and that huge play — and move on to the next step in his development, and to the next game of his career, his first road game at Kentucky on Saturday night.
“The most important game is the next one, like Coach Mac says,” Franks said. “That’s in the past now and we’re focusing on this week versus Kentucky on the road. That’s really the most important thing right now.
“You want to keep a level head, especially at the quarterback position. You never want to be too high or too low if things aren’t going your way, because that’s part of the game. But definitely off a big win like that, we enjoyed it Saturday and Sunday and now it’s back on Monday and we have to prepare for Kentucky.
“We have to beat them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so we can have fun on Saturday. And I think we enjoyed the win, it’s over now and we’re going to prepare for next week.”
Coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will have plenty for the young quarterback to work on this week in practice. It will start in the film room, where it will be pointed out to Franks that there were six critical plays that he failed to execute in Saturday’s game.
One of those plays could have gone for a long touchdown pass to a wide open Dre Massey behind the UT secondary if Franks had gone through his progressions instead of quickly going to his first option.
“There were six critical plays where … just take what the defense gives you, don’t predetermine where it’s going to go,” McElwain said. “In particular, Kadarius (Toney) got hot. We called a play and they jumped on him and we had a huge play over the top (to Massey). Just reading low to high to low. Just base.
“Obviously, the interception, we should have gone somewhere else. Had a critical third down, kind of coming out, he tried to force into BP (Brandon Powell). That read was clearly on the other side. Those things that you can’t predetermine it. You’ve got to key your safeties.”
It’s all part of the learning process that all young quarterbacks go through. Development doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that is ongoing, from practice to practice, game to game.
Franks seems eager to keep learning as he goes.
“Coach Mac and Coach Nuss do a wonderful job,” he said. “That’s really what I love about our coaching staff. You’re never perfect, no matter how good a game you have. They’re always trying to improve something that you did on each exact play.
“They do a great job helping me improve my game. That’s really what is going to help me grow as a quarterback, what can I do to improve every single snap of that game. That’s what I’m most thankful for.”
Franks’ development seems to be coming along nicely. After losing a fumble and getting benched in the opener against Michigan, he went the distance against the Vols and appeared comfortable and poised throughout, including on that final, game-winning play.
Now, he’s being prepared to take the next step in what has been a steady progression over the course of the last 18 months.
“I think it’s just kind of a complete maturation and body of work from the time he was here as an early enrollee,” McElwain said. “He’s done a good job of getting better, especially with his feet. His knowledge.
“I already talked about the six plays that he’s got to make. You know he’s got to make three of those six next week. Then he’s got to make four of those six and then five of those six and then he’s got to be six-for-six. When you start to do that you’re going to have a pretty good deal going.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.