ATLANTA — A quick perusal of social media, college football sites and the countless blogs with an opinion would make it seem UF redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks has absolutely no chance at becoming a successful quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.
But SEC Media Days featured a quarterback Wednesday who bounced back after his first season to become one of the premier signal-callers in the conference: Missouri’s Drew Lock.
Lock, 21, threw for 1,332 yards with a 49 percent completion percentage as a freshman in Columbia, with just four touchdown passes and eight interceptions, as the Tigers finished the 2015 season with a 5-7 record. There were undoubtedly skeptics when it came to Lock’s potential and future at Missouri entering that offseason, as there are with Franks at Florida.
Yet when coach Barry Odom arrived the following season, Lock looked like a future NFL quarterback in the making, despite the 4-8 record. Odom’s presence — a hiring Gene Chizik initially called “a desperation move” — has been credited with helping Lock realize his potential.
Which raises the question of why have many written Franks off after just one season, especially considering the turnarounds many make following a year of experience and a new head coach.
It was something Lock experienced himself as a freshman.
“So he’s definitely walked into something that I’ve gone through myself,” Lock said of Franks. “He’s definitely a tough soul, he’s a good quarterback and he’s going to get through it. But I think having a new coach can freshen up your mind, get you back in the groove of maybe being your old self. He was definitely a baller in high school to be able to get to Florida, so he knows how to play football, he knows how to be a great quarterback. He did some great things in his freshman year.”
Lock had one caveat about wishing Franks success in the future, however.
“He’ll be a good quarterback,” Lock said, “but I’m just hoping he doesn’t hit his stride when he plays Missouri this year.”
And Lock understands the mental and physical curve quarterbacks go through upon arriving at the collegiate level, saying he was a much quieter and reserved presence in his inaugural year at Mizzou. Like Franks, Lock believed his athleticism would translate from high school and allow him to continue dominating the opposition.
“I think the whole thing was ‘How in the world and why in the world do guys move this fast at that weight and that size’, because that shouldn’t be fair. I thought I could out-athlete people in my freshman year, because that’s what I did in high school,” Lock said. “Then when you go and play Florida with (Vernon) Hargreaves, (Quincy) Wilson and (Jalen) Tabor, it becomes a different story.”
Anyone searching for more evidence as to how far Lock has come simply should ask Odom about his senior leader coming back for one final ride.
“From the time our bowl game was over to now, his football IQ is better than maybe the jump he made from his freshman year to now,” Odom said of Lock. “He’s as talented as any quarterback in the country.”