Franks named Florida’s starting quarterback

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

[Updated, 8-27-18, 2:50 p.m.] With the opener now only days away, Florida’s great quarterback question has finally been answered.

Redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks is the starter, UF coach Dan Mullen announced Monday.

Franks, fellow sophomore Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones had been competing for the starting role since the spring.

In the end, Franks edged out Trask because the coaches feel he gives the Gators the best chance to win this season with his ability to extend plays and make things happen with his legs, Mullen said.

“We have some young quarterbacks that I think all have really bright futures in their development,” Mullen said. “All of them are a long way from a finished product of what we need to see.

“As (quarterbacks coach) Brian (Johnson) and I sat down, we looked at who would give us the best opportunity to win now. Not projecting where they’re going to be or how they’re going to develop, or how they’ll grow throughout the years.

“But right now, we head out on the field running our offense, who’s going to give us the best opportunity to win? A lot of it we felt Feleipe and some of the ability to extend plays, some of his athleticism, right now will give us the best opportunity to win games.”

Franks did little running in high school and was recruited as a pro-style quarterback by Jim McElwain and his staff. But he has the size (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) and athletic ability to be an effective runner/scrambler, and he has shown a willingness to run, something that is imperative for the QB in Mullen’s spread offense.

His size and athletic ability are what slightly separated him from Trask.

“It was pretty close,” Mullen said. “If you go to the grades, they were right there. It was the extra little things of extending plays, the intangibles. I think they were pretty even.

“It came down to just watching what Feleipe can do within the offense right now, where they’re all at in their development stages. He gives us the best chance to win.”

Franks started eight games last season, throwing for 1,438 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions.

He showed the ability to make the spectacular play — the 63-yard TD pass to Tyrie Cleveland on the final play to beat Tennessee — but he also struggled with his consistency and accuracy.

He has intriguing physical tools, Mullen said.

“Obviously, he’s got a strong arm,” Mullen said. “He can do some different things, make throws that a lot of people can’t just on pure talent. I think he’s got very good athletic ability.

“That can show in his ability to run the ball, show in his ability to scramble and extend plays. He’s got good size to be a physical player. He’s not worried, he’s not nervous about being a physical player. He’s got some toughness that way. Those are some things that we’ll build on.”

Mullen has a great track record for developing elite quarterbacks. One trait he has said he looks for is leadership.

Over the past year, Franks has evolved into a team leader in the weight room and on the practice field. His teammates voted him to the team’s leadership council in January. He is one of eight players on the council.

“When things got tough, when things got hard, just his leadership potential really pushed him over the top,” junior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “Feleipe, I guess you could say, he put himself more in that position and showed that he really wanted to be a starting quarterback more than anybody else. I think that was the biggest thing.

“His confidence is really high. He’s been through the worst and he feels like it’s only up from now. He’s definitely really confident and just ready to get out there and compete.”

Notes: Mullen listed DB Shawn Davis, LB David Reese and DB C.J. McWilliams as questionable for Saturday’s game and WR Jacob Copeland is doubtful. … Mullen said if there are suspensions, they’ll be announced Saturday before the game. … The starting kicker battle is still ongoing. Mullen said that could be a game-time decision. … Mullen said guard Brett Heggie, hampered by injuries during preseason camp, is back healthy and listed as a backup.

Click back for more from today’s news conference.

141 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations to all of the named starters.
    Franks has the edge with experience. Hoping we can win big enough to see all three play, with Jones being the 2018 version of a Freshman Tebow.
    Ready for some Football! GO GATORS!

    • All your hope was in a guy who hasn’t started since middle school? I have a feeling Franks is going to surprise a lot of people this season. You have to trust Mullen knows what he’s doing and made the right choice.

      • I see your point Joe, and I hope you’re right about Franks surprising us. But if Trask is just “a guy who hasn’t started since middle school”, shouldn’t Franks have been able to secure the starting job well before now?

        • Well no one really knows when Mullen actually made the decision. He could’ve just been keeping it under wraps till game week. Seems like a lot of programs have been going with that strategy to keep the competition heated. It’s almost like they all coordinated when they’d announce too, as like 5 schools all announced at the same time. Saban obviously likes to move at the beat of his own drum though. He’ll probably wait till the night before even though everyone knows who it’s going to be. I’m not saying Trask isn’t a good QB either, I’d just rather go into the season with experience under center instead of a first year starter for like the 6th year in a row.

        • Your absolutely right Joe Shiver and its fun reading Joe’s tapdance to your point! Mullen isnt a liar as he has proved and when he said he hadnt made up his mind yet he WAS telling the truth. I personally believe what Ive seen in spring game time and Trask was better. Ive never seen a QB who couldnt read defense get any better at it when pressure’s on, well see, I sure hope so!

    • Gator Mike. I have a questions for you. If you have lost all hope because Franks is the starter, how can you have any hope that Franks has improved drastically? And if you have lost all hope, what will you be watching at 7:30pm on Saturday? A rerun of Happy Days?

  2. UG! SCARY!
    let’s pray Mullen is like the ole ball coach and willing to pull the trigger and make a move quickly when things go sour!

    Just dont see Franks able to read the field but hope I am wrong!

      • G-6 and fellow Americans–I’ve got to come clean–I never said it even once. And now it’s too late to say it since it’s been announced.

        Why, you ax, did I say it up there? Was it just the chance of being first that got to me? Was it that I want to impress everybody with my fatidic prowess? Was I just funing you? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe Franks’ being the starter caused me to do it. Yeah, that’s it. It’s his fault.

        Never mind.

  3. I have total faith in Coach Mullen. His goal is to win, and he picked the player he felt gives us the best chance. ” Mullen said Franks gives the Gators the best chance to win right now.” Mullen has a long history of developing QBs and winning. Franks has finally gotten quality coaching from a real coach, and I am 100% positive his play and leadership will be vastly improved.

    Last year all he learned from Suckmeiser was how to make excuses and whine that fan expectations were too high. Yellow Teeth was creeping him by showing him pictures of sharks wearing bikinis and saying, “which one do you think is hottest?”

    I have even seen the change in his interview skills. Last year he sounded like a petulant 12 year old. This year he sounds like a man.

  4. Ok! Now it’s time for the Green Flag to drop and the bull$#@t stop! Franks is the QB and game week is upon us. Let’s see the new offensive firepower in all its glory! Let’s see first downs, passes beyond 5 yards downfield, slants, posts, corner routes, seam routes, tight end drags, and splitting the safeties for the deep post! Be aggressive with the passing game and don’t chastise a player because he became aggressive and scored! Let’s see 500 yards of offense and 50 points. (It’s Charleston Southern. That’s an attainable goal.) Make this not only a coming out game, but a statistical game that puts Florida on the map with offense. Let’s see it, not talk about it.

  5. Surprise, surprise. Like we didn’t see this one coming. Two things stand out, (1) the competition was very close with Trask, and (2) that Trask likely would have become starter last year if he hadn’t got injured. If they are truly that close, Trask should have been given his shot this year. Franks already had his and then some, and it was a disaster. I trust Mullen overall, but have to question this call. I wonder if he felt player or peer pressure to stay with the status quo, and with the possibly more “popular” guy among players? I do admit Trask biggest fault seems to be a lack of bold brash confidence, at least by the body language. Unfortunately we won’t really get our answer on Franks part II until around game 3 or 4, where a new QB won’t have had the prior two or three game experience. GO GATORS!

    • Totally agree! If you think Franks has any kind of talent, just go watch a game from last year.. You will curse every other word! I would rather watch Trask lose the first two games then sit and curse Franks while he stumbles around the field trying to lose the game for us..

        • Just because he can throw the ball 65+ yards through the air doesn’t mean he has talent.. Come on. Did you watch any game last year at all?? People with talent usually get better as the year goes on.. He did the opposite.

          • He also had SQUAT for coaching. No development. AWFUL play calling. No coaching and development of the OL and WR groups. I’m not defending Franks and I was hoping for Trask, but in fairness to Franks, last year was NOT all on him. If he looks like a deer in the headlights now……move on and play Trask or Jones. But give him a chance with better coaching and surroundings.

      • Watched them all and a few in high school including leading them to the championship game. He wasn’t 4 star because he stunk…

        He played poorly in a terrible offense. If he shyts his pants…then it is what it is…but to hold anyone accountable under THAT offense is unfair.

    • Alum84, I was not a big fan of Franks last season and have some concerns to this day. But Trask’s biggest drawback is not his lack of brash confidence as you say (not a fault) it is that he never started a game in high school (he was a backup) and has never played a single snap in a college game in his 2 years on campus. The fact is clear that even with his arm being top notch, he apparently failed to surpass Franks in both the spring and summer practices. We have to go with the new coaching staff’s assessment that Franks is the guy to start the season, It’s a new year, new coaching staff and a fresh start for all the players from last year’s team, so let’s see how it plays out.

      • Dan , I have to point out that most QB’s dont shine until they are in gametime under pressure. trask showed me something in the spring game last year and that was that he could move the offense, Franks never did! Every QB that comes to college hasnt ever started a game in college. He did play in highschool, just never started. Ga has changed their starter 3 years running I think. I like that, they didnt let college experience keep them from making a switch; it wasnt the most important quality. I hope franks has had a metamorphosis.

    • Alum84. Mullen is staring Polite over preseason all-SEC first team pick, Cee Cee Jefferson, because of on the practice field performance. Does that tell you anything why Trask is not starting and why Franks is?

    • Christopher. Have you ever spoken to Feliepe Franks? Well, I have. Twice. And he is about as far from stupid as the Sun is from the Earth moon. But McElwain and Nussmeier were stupid coaches at Florida. Mullen and Johnson are not. Thank you.

      • Christopher qualified what he meant by “stupid”, he said the “x factor”. he clearly wasnt talking about his intelligience. Of course it takes an intelligient person to read that and not take it out of context!

    • Christopher,
      Let’s not forget that Franks wasnt coached even a little or made physically capable to play in the sec(neither was the rest of the team). Lets see what he can do when he is in shape(with an in shape team), is properly coached(with a properly coached team), and is handed an actual game plan instead of the same 5 plays.

    • Chris, This is a quote from Mullen. “It was pretty close,” Mullen said. “If you go to the grades, they were right there. It was the extra little things of extending plays, the intangibles. I think they were pretty even.

      In all these articles over the summer and before the few players that spoke up candidly on the former coaching staff said that Mac was a scripted play coach and that he didn’t like/allow QB’s to go with what they saw. There was a write on Grier about this. Now take a young QB trying to make an impression on his coach and teammates being a team player and being hamstrung by that same coach trying to shove round pegs in square holes the plan at all levels was doomed. Had Franks gone off script and done things himself and done well (we would have liked it) he would likely have been benched for not running the play the coaches wanted. If he went off script and failed he faced the same outcome. A no win for the players.

      The “the intangibles” is what caught my eye from Mullen. In giving Franks the benefit of doubt in that his decision making was structured in a way he had little or no options and a inept staff that did little to condition, prepare, teach, coach, play call, etc. There were 11 guys on the field looking for someone to point over the hill and say this is the way you do things. He came in and never got that. What little I have seen in video clips looks light years better than what we saw last year. And yes to the comment about a practice champion could be very true. Some people can’t seem to make the leap to live action from practice. Mullen mentioned that with the kickers. Some of that is maturity and some of it is in the make up of the man himself.

      Coach has determined who he feels is the guy that will give us the best chance to win now. With the last ew years still burning in my memory it is hard to give any coach the keys to the castle and say I am behind you 100%. But Mullen has or seems to have the ‘it factor’ as a coach. I liked his style when he was OC and have always thought he could be something special in the right place. I think this is the right place. I am trusting him to take us to the place we want to be. I also trust that he will change QB’s or any player for that matter that is not going to be in the best interest of the team.
      Coach wants a QB that can manage and run when necessary and make good decisions. I am hoping the intangibles include reading defenses and making the right choices in the heat of the moment. We’ll find out in 3 days.

  6. Like the decision or not (and we’re not in the meeting room and on the practice field every day so what do we know), I’m glad that a decision was made NOW. And from the first snap, Franks knows that he’ll be the guy and not having to alternate series or quarters. This will give him a chance to see if he can get the job done. If he falters or gets injured, then it’s next man up.

    Let’s hope the OL gives Franks a chance. He has weapons all over the offense so this train will only go if Franks gets it done. Mullen trusts him…..therefore so do I.

  7. well if that’s our best chance to win then better get ready to start losing because he will lose more games than he wins. There is no excuse for Emory Jones not to be named the starter . He should fit the scheme and the let Mullen develop him. This is not good!

  8. Looking forward to our new 240Ib Quarterback seeing all those bull rushes coming this year. Those never ending defensive out rushes that Florida never overcame. This year we have some speedy backs to put alongside the monster pounding big running backs we had last year, and a beefed up QB that may have better runinng abilities than the TB

    The offensive line gets some breathing room and develops as the season goes

  9. An Options quarterback facing the 100% facing the same bull rush teams we saw against every team on the schedule is going have different results than last year very limited play calling. 240Ib Franks ran a very long TD, this year the 240Ib quarterback will be pounding some of those 8 years gains over undersized DBs. So many options will be available to overcome those never ending all out rush Defenses we played last year and it won’t just be a stronger Franks. We also have a stable of electric scatbacks mixed in with some power back that are very good.
    Just focus on the the many strong running aspects and you will see an offensive line able to control the bull rush we all saw of last year. Then, the O-Line gets some attitude with blowing suddenly tired D-lines and the pass will open up. A two pronged attack shall be created

    Thins go right and you could get a shockingly good 2018. Go Gators

  10. I don’t really care which of them starts against Charleston Southern, my biggest concern this year is the O-LINE. They were our biggest problem for the last 4 -5 years. If that is not corrected, Tom Brady will not be able to move this team. Sure Franks was a poor decision maker, but when you don’t have time to make GOOD decisions you make poor ones. Let’s see how our O-LINE works in the Kentucky game and beyond GO GATORS!!!!.

  11. OK, hooray for Uf. Hooray for Franks. Remember this! I think last year everyone hoped UF could find a real QB. Last year Franks was too slow mentally, too inept, and a bad decision maker in games. It appeared he choked by never finding the open man in space! I hope he changes under Coach Mullen. God knows Coach Nuss and Coach Mcelwain were awful. I think Coach Mullen has balls of steel! I do believe UF fans will freak if he looks remotely as bad as last year and Coach Mullen has a knack for building a QB Soooooooo GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GATORS!

  12. Honestly, if the line can be halfway decent, our RBs have a shot at being a dominant unit. Combine that with actual coaching of the receivers, actual guidance of the QBs, actual weight training, and a fantastic play caller…who plays QB becomes less and less important. If Franks can’t succeed eatly this year, we will see Trask and Jones sooner rather than later.

    We might be getting closer to a Spurrier system, in which the QB is just a stiff with an arm. If Noah Brindise could win games, Franks certainly can.

    • Receivers were not open (and not their fault)….the route trees were abysmal and very easy to read and cover. It was a COMPLETE stink fest offensively minus the running game. AGAIN, to hold any of these guys accountable under the last regime is nonsensical.

      I remember several guys buried under the bench, in the doghouse, etc. one year, only to be ALL SEC the next due to different sets of eyes (Spurrier) and better opportunities. See Shane Matthews, Tre Everett…look at Ernie Mills numbers in 89 then 90. I always said Stacey Simmons would have flourished under Spurrier but he left the year before. Ernie Mills has a decade career in the league due to FINALLY showing his skills.

      Can we give these guys a clean slate, then evaluate them??

  13. Franks was recruited by many “big schools”…he wasn’t coached for 2 years! If we move up into the top 50 in offense we will be fine. “O” is going to make us or break us! I see a respectable 9-3 season, with some luck? 10 or 11 wins…The talent is there…

  14. Some of you guys need to get a grip. Last year was what it was. Very little organization and very little coaching especially at the QB position. Combine this with basically NO OL coaching and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. A lot of it is on Chump for recruiting only defensive players and playing not to lose. Will we ever return to the glory days of SOS or even UM offensively? Who can say. I just know that finally the QBs are being held accountable for their inconsistent play. Can’t believe Mullen would be starting Franks if he didn’t feel he could do the job. We don’t need a “Star” behind center. We just need someone who makes good, consistent decisions and doesn’t make the stupid mistakes. Alabama hasn’t had a standout QB for years now but they’ve had the kid behind center that knew the offense and ran it without the bonehead plays we’ve become accustomed to watching. The major difference is as SOS used to say COACHING THEM UP. Mullen has proven he can do that. I look forward to see the results. Go Gators!

      • We are not Alabama, and the moment we quit trying to be is the moment we can start getting better..

        That said, I agree with his premise…let’s give them a chance.

        Now, DEFINITELY agree with this. Champ tried to ake us Bama Jr. and it seems Foley hired nased on that premise. The minute we did this, we went backward to our current state. Florida teams showcase SPEED…let’s be us.

        • Have it backwards some how….

          I meant…I agreed with this quote…

          “We are not Alabama, and the moment we quit trying to be is the moment we can start getting better..”

          Now, DEFINITELY agree with this. Champ tried to ake us Bama Jr. and it seems Foley hired nased on that premise. The minute we did this, we went backward to our current state. Florida teams showcase SPEED…let’s be us.

          That said, I agree with his premise…let’s give them a chance.

  15. I say the anxiety some have about Franks is misplaced. the guy has shown some toughness, leadership, ability to not sulk when another qb plays, can run, big arm, avoided injury, excellent athletic talent, and has experience, it really isn’t a surprise to me. maybe franks wont be an elite nfl qb, but what is gained by disagreeing with one of the elite qb coaching minds in the country? I’m sure franks has some of the same shortcomings as last year, but even Alabama has controversy at qb. half of the nfl is unsure about their quarterback position. I have learned to respect and appreciate Franks, I really have.

  16. I not surprised that the coaches decided on Franks… as, I pointed out in an earlier comments Franks has come a long way since last year…he just stands out when he comes on the field, and he looks like a starting QB, with his physical appearance and athleticism … if you saw him for the first time he would stand out against the likes of Hurd, Fromm and Lock along with any of the other SEC starting QB’s…he just looks special on the field this year …and has a new sense of confidence about him…along with a little arrogance … it really is a new look and when you see him throw the ball you are even more convinced he’s the guy…as, I said in an earlier comment the coaches wanted him to be their guy…he is much improved from last year…These coaches have done wonders with this young man…I will say that as a fact…He is not by any means the most accurate passer on this team…Trask is …Trask has the ability to move the team more consistently throwing the ball than Franks…. but Franks has more leadership qualities and charisma and general presence when on the field than Trask… He is also the better runner of the two… and lets not forget the experience factor…like I said if you have two QB’s that are equal in talent you go with experience … Franks still possessives some of the same faults he had last year, but he certainly has the ability to make plays… I do think Mullen and Johnson wanted him to be the QB from the very beginning when he threw a 60 yd TD pass and one of the first work outs…but, I do believe Mullen will pull him and try something new, if he continues to make silly mistakes and can’t make 3rd downs on a consistent basis… but, I do think he deserves the chance to prove himself in the first game… when you add up all the positives and negatives between the 2 QB’s …Franks wins and believe me Mullen knows what he’s doing…I think by choosing Franks he has set the stage for a strong running game this season…if need be Trask will be up for the task if needed without a drop off…Mullen has basically said this is going to be a running team and is not going to be a primarily passing team, by choosing Franks… but, I’m quite sure he would have picked Trask if we were going to rely on a passing offense …I’m sure he would like to have a 50-50 ratio in the run – pass offense … I’m pulling for Franks but let’s see how he reacts in a game when Mullen isn’t behind him telling him to throw the ball… time will tell.

  17. “We don’t rise to the level of our expectation, we fall to the level of our training” – Archilochus

    This quote, often wrongly attributed to an anonymous Navy Seal, provides the reason for Franks poor year. He received virtually no training from the previous coaching staff, so he didn’t automatically react to situations that he had seen and practiced, the had to take the extra second (or two) to think through what to do in every situation, because he had not been trained to quickly read and respond.

    I’m sure the lack of training has been resolved as well as it can be at this time, and will continue through this year, or unless and until Mullen decides another QB gives UF a better chance to win.

    All things being equal, you coach the guys up and put the guy with the most experience out there for the first game(s), and then adjust if needed.

  18. What I’m wondering is if Franks is that much better than Trask and Jones or if he’s the lesser of three evils. I hope Coach has worked his magic. Franks should look like Tom Brady this week. Let’s see how he does against Kentucky.

    • I guess you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands this season since you won’t be watching any of the games. I mean, why would you since you’ve already given up before the season even started.

      I do agree with you considering the very persuasive and succinct points you made in your post. I’m glad I read this so I too will not waste my time watching any of the games. Oh well, looking forward to the 2019 season.

    • That’s a little dramatic Aloha….. and premature.

      Give this team a chance. They’ve worked hard and deserve it. If the “effort” is not there, then by all means desert the season and go mow the grass. But if this team and program has changed the way we are all being led to believe, then you’d better jump on board because Gator football is going to be fun again 🙂

  19. I trust Coach Dan, and I hope he worked the panic attack mode out of Franks. My concern is even with great coaching, can that be done? Someone mentioned great practice player. He was terrible in games last year when the lights were on. I was hoping for Trask, but think both will get snaps on Saturday. If Coach did turn the Franks worm into a butterfly we will soon find out – but that test won’t start until Kentucky, then Tennessee.

  20. I say give Franks a couple of games to show us improvement.
    The first game will be a confidence builder. The second game against Kentucky will be the decider to see if he is making checks and reading the D better. Let’s wait and see. I’m sure Coach Mullen will be coaching him up.

  21. I for one will trust the coach as to whom is the starter for Game 1. It is important to remember we are starting with Charleston Southern, not Michigan. The upside with starting Franks is that CDM will see right away if Franks performs in a game environment without the risk of a loss. It’s a great opportunity to build confidence for Franks and the rest of the offense. If Franks didn’t get the start it would have likely affected his confidence for the year. If Franks doesn’t show any development in reading defenses, then Trask will get his shot. Trash is most likely better prepared mentally to be the 2nd option.

  22. I really can’t believe the, let’s be blunt, foolishness of some of the whiny posters here. Last year was horrible and UF rid itself of the primary reason. Mullen knows offense better than anyone who wastes his time on gatorsports. Those who are giving up now need to get over themselves and be happy that we have a brain coaching our team this year rather than just a mouth. You simply don’t know how good Franks can be in a well-coached offense, so be hopeful.

    After Wuerffel graduated, and so much talent left after the ’96 season, I was never more excited about an upcoming year. I harbored no delusions about Doug Johnson; I just wanted to see what Spurrier could do. It wasn’t beautiful, but it was fun and we took down FSU when no one thought it could happen.

    Mullen is a great coach. Trust him. Learn from him. He’s having to reshape a team of losers, but the process is going to be fascinating. Patience, my pretties.

    • NWIA- Too True. How many players became stars under a new regime. The empty vacuous space that occupied the braincases of the departed regime couldn’t coach, develop teach young players many of which need that guidance and training to use the natural physical talents they have. We don’t know the potential of any of these guys. Spurrier was great at getting the most out of the talent he had. I am with you we have a great coach now. 4 days 5 hours 23 minutes and 11 seconds to game time when I wrote this. Not that anyone on here is counting.

  23. No one ever said Franks didn’t have the physical tools or the athletic ability. It’s that his brain tends to slip into neutral during the game too often. And until Mullen sees him perform in a game, all he has to base his judgement on is how the QB’s performed in practice. In any of the scrimmages, was the non contact jersey ever taken off the QB’s?