Competition at every position every week, Mullen says

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) talks with freshman quarterback Jalen Jones (18) during practice Saturday at the Sanders Practice Facility on campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Because Feleipe Franks started every game last season and has been working exclusively with the No. 1 offense this spring, many in Gator Nation are probably wondering why Dan Mullen doesn’t just go ahead and state the obvious.

Franks is Florida’s starting quarterback.

But Mullen won’t do that. Because that’s not what he does. He doesn’t name starters at quarterback — or any other position on the team.

He cleared that up Monday.

“That’s how the program works at every position,” Mullen said. “There’s as much competition at the kicker, at the d-tackle, at the linebacker, as at quarterback.

“Every week, everybody is competing for their reps to go play.

And they know that in the program. That’s how I’ve always run it.”

It’s no different now than it was when he was UF’s offensive coordinator from 2005-08 under Urban Meyer. The competition never ended at quarterback. And he never actually named a starter, even though everyone knew who the starter was: Chris Leak in 2006, Tim Tebow after that.

“Chris Leak was always competing with Tim Tebow. Chris played 70 plays a game, Tim played a couple plays a game,” Mullen said. “There was always a competition going on. Tim had to compete with Cam Newton.

“I’ve just always … I believe in that. Guys are competing for playing time. Guys are competing for the starting center job, with leadership that is just as important as the quarterback position. Your safety, that’s as important as the quarterback in leadership. Middle linebacker, similar. They’re all competing in all those things to get reps.

“That’s how we always run the program. That’s how it’s always worked for me.”

So, throughout the rest of the spring — and then in the summer and in preseason camp in August — the competition at quarterback will remain wide open between Franks, Kyle Trask, redshirt freshman Emory Jones and true freshman Jalon Jones.

That being said, it’s still obvious who the No. 1 quarterback is: Franks.

“I would think they all (know). I would think Feleipe thinks he’s the starter,” Mullen said. “I think the other guys are trying to do that.”

But the competition continues.

“Always,” Mullen said. “There’s competition at every position every day. There’s one every day during the season. Feleipe was the starter every single game and there was never a doubt one time last season.”

Mullen was reminded that he benched Franks in the second half of the loss to Missouri.

“No, there wasn’t (any doubt who the quarterback was),” he said. “I pulled him when I pulled our starting tailback and our starting O-line.”

Mullen was then reminded that there was an open quarterback competition in practice the following week.

“I had a competition the week going into it, too. That’s how the program works at every position,” he said.

And it’s not going to change. So, the Gators are not going to leave the spring with a No. 1 quarterback — even though everyone is going to know who it is.


“(The players) should be able to rally around all your quarterbacks,” Mullen said. “That’s a huge thing. I hope we have more than one No. 1 quarterback that guys are really comfortable with because we’re a sprained ankle from that guy having to play.

“The fact that Feleipe has played in big games and won a lot of big games, the team’s going to have a lot of comfort in him. I hope the other guys grow to that level.”

So, the competition continues.



  1. There we have it from CDM himself, “The fact that Feleipe has played in big games and won a lot of big games, the team’s going to have a lot of comfort in him. I hope the other guys grow to that level.” So, a healthy Feleipe Franks (passing warts and all) will be the Gators’ starter in Orlando come August 24th.

    Barring injury, or absolutely horrible play by Franks (which implies unexpected losses for the Gators,) the Jones brothers will have to wait till next season to battle it out for the starting QB job. And Kyle Trask will most likely be a grad transfer out after this season.

    The only question left on my mind now is whether Franks will be good enough to make himself available for the NFL draft after this season, or will he return for his red-shirt senior season next year?

          • I quit both JP4 and JP8, and it has been several years since that juice hit my gullet. I will tell you what – in Iraq I could clear a 5 section TEMPERTENT after eating an Oriental MRE…LMAO. GO GATORS!!!

          • You must have been a top secret bio-weapon of mass destruction, Ed. Too bad we let you go when we did…..we could have conquered the world had you not gotten out!

            BTW, what happened to that rifle totin’, sign hangin’ picture of you?

          • Gator-6, I guess it offended some people so it was removed from my profile. I have people all the time try to bash me for having that pic as my avitar, and I tell them that it is my Facebook pic for all of my military friends there. You should see some of the comments I get. I love to argue at times and I have a vocabulary that most cannot match. Some people will see the truth and still call me a liar. This is what our world is becoming. Maybe I will try the one where I am standing at my HMMWV with the “Welcome to Iraq” sign. That was when the war started and I was one of the first Soldiers into Iraq. We’ll see. I am just as happy without a pic, but I wanted to prove that I wasn’t hiding behind a computer screen. GO GATORS!!!

    • CDM has certainly changed the culture of the team and the expectations of The Gator Nation. As far as Franks leaving for the NFL at the end of this season, he would have to shatter some records at UF to look at leaving. He has a lot of bad tape to erase, and it will probably take two years under decent coaching to erase it enough to get drafted in the 1st or 2nd round.

      • Phil, NFL personnel directors and coaches are an arrogant bunch. Most of them believe they can “fix” any mental deficiencies a young QB may display. All they care about are the physical metrics and Franks has those in spades.

        When Franks continues to stare down primary receivers, or fails in going through progressions, or still misses open receivers on the opposite side of the field from where he’s staring this season, he may be told by the NFL that he may be drafted in the 2nd round, instead of the top half of the 1st. He’ll be told his lack of developmental experience in high school and first couple of seasons in college make him a “higher risk” and another season under CDM’s tutelage at UF should improve his draft stock, or he may declare for the draft and take his chances. Then, Franks will have a tough decision to make, since the difference between high 1st and 2nd rounds is worth tens of millions of $$$ over a multi-year contract.

        Don’t forget, those geniuses in the NFL made Blake Bortles and Josh Rosen 1st round picks and signed Ryan Tannehill to a star QB contract, in spite of their mental deficiencies, because they had great physical metrics. None of them got “fixed.”

      • BTW, I believe Franks should declare for the draft after this season and make as much money as he can right away. His mental deficiencies, like those of Bortles, Rosen and Tannehill can’t be fixed any more than Danny Wuerffel, who had the mental side in spades, could be trained to have a stronger arm.

  2. i read some statistical info where the previous years performance of a friendly rival is a very good indicator of how well a player or a team is going to be in the coming year. i dont always like a rival, but a good one does help. we seem to have a lot more friendly rivalries this year going among the team, which is what competition ideally is. this article pretty much states that we have the necessary rivalries in house to produce a championship team, maybe not this year, but next year imo.
    if this argument is true, i will have to root for tennessee every game except ours. no team can be a friendly rival with georgia, and we truly are rivals with the vols imo in football imo. bama is just waiting for Georgia Tech to come back! im glad to see us playing Miami, that has been a good rivalry and you can see the enthusiasm for the game in august already.

  3. Competition makes everyone stronger and better– any competent coach will implement it as a way to help his players improve. It’s one practice at a time right now.

    Franks could lose the job very easily, but if it happens it more likely would happen during the summer when players engage in “voluntary” workouts. Last year, Mullen expressed disappointment in the effort from all the QBs during the summer. I seem to recall he even had Prescott call them and talk to them about what it takes to get to the peak level.

    A year layer, they all have a much better understanding of what it takes to compete for titles, and anyone who decides to slack off will have a good chance to plunge on the depth chart.

    Now, if I had to guess, my guess is that Franks will work hard this summer as will the rest of the guys. They have all bought into the Mullen way, and they have experienced the results. I am not saying Franks will slack off. I am just saying if he does and he lets Emory out work him, he could lose his spot. What the offensive line does this summer is as important as what they do this spring. Hopefully, Franks is out there pushing everyone and making sure the team works like mad men all summer long.

    As for turning pro, I hope none of these guys is thinking about that now. They need to be thinking about where they are right now and worry about that after the season. They shouldn’t even be thinking about Miami yet. All they need to worry about is what they need to do today to get better.