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Feleipe Franks Brings Talent, Experience to Arkansas

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Having seen it all, Feleipe Franks brings perspective to his new position.

As Arkansas goes through a major transition, with new head coach Sam Pittman replacing Chad Morris, the Razorbacks will have an experienced and talented quarterback to aide their charge in former Florida signal caller Feleipe Franks. A multi-year starter for the Gators who helped usher in the Dan Mullen era in Gainesville, Franks has both a veteran's presence and a winner's persistence. His leadership will help move Arkansas forward.

The resume, for Franks, is quite impressive. In his first full season atop the depth chart, Franks rallied Florida to ten wins in Mullen's debut year, helping the Gators reach double digits in victories and win a New Year's Six bowl game. Franks, even with his most recent season cut-short due to injury, threw for 4,593 yards and 38 touchdowns, rushing for 438 yards and eight more scores. He was one of the catalysts for a historic Florida turnaround, winning his last seven games as a starter in Gainesville.

What Franks did in 2018 was make an impact and make history. He is one of just ten SEC quarterbacks this millennium in the league's "24-7 club", compiling 24 touchdown passes and seven touchdown runs in a single season. For point of reference, Franks, Joshua Dobbs, Chad Kelly, Johnny Manziel (2x), Kellen Mond, Aaron Murray, Cam Newton, Dak Prescott (2x), Blake Sims and Tim Tebow (2x) are the only conference signal callers to meet those minimums the past 20 years.         

Franks will be one of the centerpieces for Pittman and new offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. The versatility Franks has comes with options. Before being injured last season, he was completing 76.1% of his passes and, after the Miami opener, had rushed for a touchdown in six of his previous seven games. Immediately, Franks will be able to do a number of different things for his new team, providing leadership included. He is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC.

Interestingly enough for Arkansas, former notable names at Georgia and Florida, the two premier programs in the SEC East, will lead the Razorbacks' fresh start. Pittman and Franks have a shared past and future alike.  

Arkansas' backfield has the potential to be one of the SEC's best. In addition to Franks joining the team as a transfer, standout running back Rakeem Boyd returns for the Razorbacks; he rushed for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago, averaging over six yards per carry. The two playmakers will be part of their program's foundation for the fall. In terms of perimeter personnel for Franks, Arkansas brings back its top three receivers from this past season in Treylon Burks, Mike Woods and Trey Knox. On paper, there is plenty to like.

Throughout his career, Franks has been through, overcome and accomplished a lot. More so than his impressive athleticism, Franks was recently drafted by the Boston Red Sox, or his 6'6'', 240-pound frame, perservence is one of his defining trait. Arkansas is getting a fighter in Franks; that will, in addition to his multi-faceted abilities, helped drive Florida to the national forefront. The journey, for Franks, continues.

Franks, though crossing divisions, knows what it takes to be successful in the SEC. Furthermore, he is well-accustomed to the spotlight that being a star quarterback in the conference brings. Earning five-star status out of high school, then starting games as a freshman in 2017, Franks has long been a national name. He just doesn't have experience, but equity as well.

Pittman has plenty of work to do in Fayetteville, both in terms of immediate fixes and long-term goals. He needs to define expectations, establish a winning culture and develop continuity within a system; already, however, he appears to have found his quarterback. Franks comes with rare credentials and, in terms of an on-field application, a skill set that Briles will be able to use to base his scheme around. Along with some other high-profile returnees, Franks is suddenly one of the faces of Arkansas football.   

Having seen it all, Franks brings perspective to his new position. His role with the Razorbacks will be an important one.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports