As Feleipe Franks enters his fourth spring as a Florida Gator, it’s safe to say he’s come a long way.
Rewind to the 4-7 season of 2017—a season Franks got benched multiple times and was probably thrown into the fire much too early as a redshirt freshman. Now, he’s coming off a 10-3 season and has a firm grip on the starting job for 2019.
Franks was far from perfect in his 2018 campaign, but he clearly benefitted from the coaching and system of Dan Mullen. Rather than regressing, as so many Florida quarterbacks had over the last decade, he blossomed late in the year as he led the Gators to beat-down wins over rival FSU 41-14 and Michigan 41-15 in the Peach Bowl.
When he reflects on the road it took to get here, he knows he’s a much different player and person than the Franks of years’ past.
“It’s been unique,” he said. “It hasn’t been like a lot of people, like it’s hasn’t been straight success. Mine has been kind of bumpy, but ultimately that’s what makes me who I am. It humbled me. Coming out of high school, a big recruit and then coming here and not doing too good when I first got here to now, it just humbled me, matured me at a young age. It continues to mature me and helps me become a better player.”
While it is Franks’ job to lose, a lot can happen before fall rolls around. The competition might not be quite as intense as it was at this time last year, but there are still three other guys waiting for any opportunity to take his place.
Fellow redshirt junior Kyle Trask, redshirt freshman Emory Jones and freshman Jalon Jones could all be viable options if Florida needs them. There is enough of a competition to keep Franks pushing hard and to fill the hole in case of injury.
It is refreshing to have so much depth at a position that’s plagued the program for what seems like an eternity.
“I like to compete,” Franks said. “Like I said, the mindset hasn’t changed for me and for any of these guys. We come out here and we compete. Everybody knows that you come here to earn a spot and nothing is given to you. Like [Mullen] said, if you don’t want it that way, you’re not a competitor. That’s the funnest part about football. You want to compete each and every day against the best of the best. That’s why you come to Florida.”
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Gators have their quarterback, and he’s not limiting expectations for the upcoming season.
He nearly doubled his passing yards (from 1,438 to 2,457) and tripled his touchdowns (9 to 24) last season, all while throwing fewer interceptions. As he and the rest of Florida’s players enter the second year in the offense, there is potential to do even more damage.
Franks is more comfortable as a passer, as a runner and as a leader than he’s ever been before. He’s even started putting a little touch on the ball in the early going of spring practice. Gasp.
With a talented group of running backs at his side and experienced receivers catching his passes, Franks is confident in where he can lead this team.
The goal is simple: “I want a championship. I want a ring.”