Editor’s Note: Starting today, I will be breaking down a different position group every day heading into Florida’s spring game on April 7. Each post will start with a mini feature on one player at each position and then transition to a nuts-and-bolts look at the group as a whole. First up, the quarterbacks.
Feleipe Franks re-watched Florida’s 2016 spring game.
And then he watched it again. And again. And again.
On that day, his first appearance in front of the home crowd, Franks threw three interceptions and looks out of sorts just about every time he dropped back to pass. He completed just five of his 11 pass attempts.
“You take everything away from it,” Franks said last week. “You learn from it, you learn from your mistakes. You go back and look at the film and see what you did wrong and then not do it again.”
That’s been Franks’ focus this spring as he battles with classmate Kyle Trask to become Florida’s next starting quarterback. Coach Jim McElwain said the race is still close, and Florida’s April 7 spring game will likely be the final factor in determining who will get the opportunity to start under center for the Gators on Sept. 2 against Michigan.
Franks, a 6-6 gunslinger, is known for his deep passes down the field, the ones that skirt the sideline that he hopes to place in his receiver’s hands for a big play.
But his accuracy in the short and mid-range passing game is the make-or-break factor for the 19-year-old.
He’s shown development.
On the first play of practice Wednesday, Franks dropped back, went through his progressions and fired a dart to his left toward Antonio Callaway about 10 yards down the field for an easy completion. It wasn’t the flashiest play of Franks’ career by any sense, but it’s the type of play the Gators will be looking for from the redshirt freshman should he win the quarterback job.
“I think everything in my game is improved,” Franks said. “I think coach Mac and coach Nuss did a great job just coaching me up and kind of building me into like what a quarterback needs to be."
But in order for him to show Florida fans what kind of quarterback he is, he still needs to edge out Trask.
“It’s a great competition between me and Kyle,” Franks said. “It’s the best one I’ve ever been a part of. It’s going to make me and him better every day and that’s everybody on the team -- better every day.”
Key players on roster: redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, redshirt freshman Kyle Trask, redshirt junior Luke Del Rio
Key players lost: Austin Appleby
Don’t overlook: True freshman Kadarius Toney, who could be used in different Wildcat-type packages this season.
Key Stats from 2016: 215.8 passing yards/game (6th in SEC), 18 passing touchdowns (8th in SEC), 15 interceptions (tied for most in SEC)
Evaluation: Florida is primed to start yet another new face at quarterback this season, bringing the number to 10 since Tim Tebow’s final season in 2009. Franks has the potential to be a serviceable starter if he can continue improving his accuracy, but there are still doubts about whether the Gators’ long-term solution at quarterback is currently on the roster.
Friday's segment will feature the running backs.