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Florida Gators’ Feleipe Franks still making noise

There are reasons to be optimistic about his future, but he hasn’t silenced all the critics, either.
Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) takes aim for Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) during the third quarter of the game on September 8, 2018 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, the Gators were up 10 to 7.
MONICA HERNDON | Times Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) takes aim for Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) during the third quarter of the game on September 8, 2018 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, the Gators were up 10 to 7.
Published Mar. 15, 2019
Updated Mar. 15, 2019

GAINESVILLE — Florida’s Feleipe Franks fired a bomb down the left sideline to Trevon Grimes late in Thursday’s practice.

When Grimes, somehow, came down with it over defensive back C.J. Henderson, Franks started jawing with the bravado that comes from being a returning starting quarterback for a top-10 team.

“I was just talking noise,” Franks said.

The noise with and around Franks is different now than it was a year ago.

Last March, he was a few months removed from hitting an all-time low during his rough redshirt freshman season. He was fighting to regain the starting job he repeatedly lost the year before, and he was learning a new system under new coach and quarterback guru Dan Mullen.

But if you heard the rumblings from the fans at Thursday’s open practice, you know the noise is still there. He didn’t shush it out by bringing his finger to his lips in the comeback win over South Carolina, and he didn’t silence it all by leading the Gators to 10 wins and the Peach Bowl.

UF’s undisputed starter still seems like a question mark on a team trying to build its way toward a championship.

“It’s been unique,” Franks said of his Florida tenure. “It hasn’t been like a lot of people’s — like, it hasn’t been straight success. Mine has been kind of bumpy, but ultimately that’s what makes me who I am.”

There are reasons to be optimistic about the Gators’ future with the player Franks has become. The 31 touchdowns he accounted for were the seventh most in program history. His touchdown-interception ratio (24-6) was one of the 20 best in the nation, and only two returning starters in the country improved their passing efficiency more than Franks (up 30.1 points).

Mullen was impressed by the toughness he showed down the stretch, and Franks accomplished his coach’s chief goal by getting better at the routine, unspectacular plays.

RELATED: What makes Florida Gators’ Dan Mullen a quarterback guru?

And all of that was in Mullen’s first season, when Franks was still learning the offense.

Although he was unquestionably better last year than he was in 2017, he still only ranked No. 76 nationally in completion percentage (58.4). He completed less than 45 percent of his passes against Kentucky, LSU and Missouri.

Critics can point not to the throws Franks made but the ones he didn’t because he missed an open receiver or held onto the ball too long. Even after his enormous jump in passing efficiency, he still only ranked 41st in the country. That’s not bad, but when you play at a school that produced three Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback, you’re not expected to rank one notch below Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur.

Franks expects better, too.

Aside from the immediate aftermath of his disappointing 2017 season, Franks has never lacked confidence. With a breakout 2018 behind him and a second spring under Mullen just beginning, his belief in himself has grown.

“I just always try to build my confidence up, I mean, from year to year, from week to week,” Franks said.

The biggest reason he’s confident comes with the familiarity of Year 2 under Mullen. His receivers are unchanged. He understands the coaches and schemes better, which should lead to quicker decisions.

“If you’re a quicker decision-maker and know where you want to go with the ball, you’ve got a chance to be more accurate,” Mullen said. “Now you’re making good decisions with good accuracy, you can become a pretty good quarterback.”

And if Franks can grow beyond being a pretty good quarterback, the noise around him might finally start to subside.

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.


  1. The Knicks' Kevin Knox looks to pass as two Suns players defend him during the first half in a game on Jan. 16, 2020.
  2. Dan Mullen, of Florida, speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
  3. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) smashes into LSU Tigers safety John Battle (26) in the second quarter. (Bronte Wittpenn, Times)
  4. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter in a game against LSU at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
  5. Florida forward Keyontae Johnson, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, scores a career-high 24 points on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in a win over Arkansas in Gainesville.
  6. Florida State quarterback James Blackman (1) throws during the first half of the 2019 season opener against Boise State in Tallahassee.
  7. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Orange Bowl against Virginia on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens.
  8. In this 1980 file photo, Charley Pell celebrates his first victory as Florida Gators' coach, against Cal at Tampa Stadium.
  9. Florida basketball coach Mike White, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, continues to be frustrated by his team falling behind by large deficits early in games.
  10. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during a game Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville.
  11. South Florida Bulls tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) makes a key reception with Temple Owls safety Amir Tyler (25) and Temple Owls linebacker Audley Isaacs (30) defending during the third quarter of the game between USF and Temple on Thursday, November 7, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  12. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times Florida Gators wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) walks in Gator Walk before the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla.