There may be no definitive definition of an Alpha dog, but Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks seems to have a clear vision of what coach Dan Mullen is looking for in a leader.
“I think of a lion,” Franks said. “I think of just a guy that can’t be stopped, won’t be stopped. Just somebody that won’t quit. Somebody that just loves to win, can’t lose and just wants to go out there each and every Saturday and be the ultimate competitor. That’s what I think of when I think Alpha dog, ultimate competitor.
“Someone that’s relentless. Someone that perseveres with whatever gets thrown at (them), somebody that won’t go out without a fight. Somebody that loves to win in everything they do in life.”
Any of his teammates who hear or see Franks’ definition of an Alpha dog probably will tell you Franks is pretty much describing himself.
He’s a competitor. He’s relentless. He’s a fighter, a winner.
He’s shown it in games, in the offseason strength and conditioning program, in players only practice this summer. Now, he’s showing it on the practice field, as the Gators get ready for Saturday’s opener against Miami.
“He’s a competitor. He wants to win,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He’s a guy that’s going to fight until he can’t fight anymore. That’s what I admire about him.
“He’s gotten so much better from a mental standpoint, dealing with social media, fans, things of that nature. Just growing up and being the guy to drive the ship for us. He’s been really good for us and he’s going to continue to be that way.”
Mullen said Monday that he’s still looking for some Alpha dogs to lead this team, so Franks apparently hasn’t quite reached that status yet. But he appears to be getting close, very close.
It’s pretty obvious that his teammates already consider him an Alpha dog, one of the team leaders.
“A guy that we just always look to when we’re in a moment where we’re down or something like that,” senior running back Lamical Perine said. “He’s just a guy who is always going to make sure everybody’s up. He’s a high-intensity guy that gives it his all all the time. A guy that has been in big-time games and things like. You can always look to a guy like that. He’s not a phony. He’s not somebody that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a guy who’s been in this program three or four years and he’s been productive.
“I feel like he’s always had that (Alpha dog) in him. For you to be an Alpha dog you have to go through things, just go through trials and tribulations, you have to have downfalls of being an Alpha dog. So, he’s been through that and he’s been successful, so he’s not afraid to win and lose.”
Franks has evolved as a leader over the past year. At the same time, he’s evolved as a player, showing sure and steady improvement since he’s been under Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.
That improvement apparently has accelerated over the past six-plus months, which likely only will strengthen his leadership role.
“He’s already improved more during the offseason than he did throughout last season on the field,” Mullen said. “In his performance and understanding the system and decision making and making plays. It is the big picture of the quarterback.
“It’s every intangible that comes with that. How do you manage the game? Your decision making, your leadership, your mental and physical toughness. All of those are aspects of things at the quarterback position that I think he’s taking huge strides at.”
Franks also has started to master the intangibles off the field, Mullen said.
“I’ve seen him do all the off the field stuff at a much, much higher level. It’s greater improvement from January to now than all of last season,” he said. “With the leadership, we’ll see how he’s going to handle the highs and lows and the adversity that we’re going to face, whether it’s adversity of success or adversity of defeat, and how we handle all of that in between.”
Franks’ teammates consider him a leader and seem willing to follow him into the battles ahead. Senior wide receiver Van Jefferson said the fans will understand why over the course of this season, starting with Saturday night’s opener against Miami in Orlando.
“His game is going to be phenomenal,” Jefferson said. “He’s going to have a great year. He’s been putting in the work all summer. He’s been on our tails all summer. His season is going to be crazy.
“You’re really going to see a different quarterback in Feleipe. He’s going to do great things. I have no doubt in my mind. He’s confident all the way around. He’s going to go out there and just blow everybody’s mind away. ”
Sounds like something an Alpha dog would do.
Who: Florida vs. Miami
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850