On Friday night in the Swamp (and with 48,000 people watching), Feleipe Franks took big steps forward in Florida‘s quarterback race.
The redshirt freshman, who a year ago fell flat on his face with three ugly interceptions in the Gators’ spring game, looked like a changed player and led Florida’s Orange Team to a 31-0 win behind 119 yards and a touchdown in just a half.
He started the night with a beautiful 46-yard completion to Josh Hammond down the right sideline on the opening series. A few plays later, he threw his first touchdown in front of a Gators crowd, zipping a 16-yard pass to Antonio Callaway.
The wide-eyed, confused true freshman who slinked around the Swamp in April 2016 was nowhere to be found. Instead, a leader emerged in a critical moment for a position that hasn’t really produced much of anything in almost a decade.
“He’s ahead,” coach Jim McElwain told reporters after the game. “No doubt about it.”
Yes, the former ESPN 300 member from Crawfordville, Florida, has taken a nice lead at Florida’s quarterback position heading into the real meat of the offseason. He wasn’t perfect, as some easy passes zipped out of his hand with too much power behind them, completely missing targets. His throwing motion looked a lot quicker on most of his eight completions, but that long, lazy delivery reared its ugly head on some of those six incompletions.
He was with the first-team offense facing the second-team defense, which has to temper the total evaluation of Franks.
Still, he passed his test. Set up not to fail, Franks didn’t, and that’s what McElwain and Franks’ teammates wanted to see. Fans wanted to see his powerful right arm on full display, and they got that. Say what you will about the competition he faced with the arsenal he played with, but Franks made the big throws that a starting quarterback in the SEC should be…