FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas had a pair of grad transfer quarterbacks in 2019 and it didn’t work out for either of them in Fayetteville.
This year, the Razorbacks have another grad transfer quarterback in former Florida Gator Feleipe Franks. But this time it doesn’t seem like Franks is just here for three or four months of personal gain. In a short time, Franks was voted one of the captains by his teammates and putting on the Razorback jersey is special to him.
“Yeah, it’s important,” Franks said. “Just, it’s kind of funny that you ask that. When I got here, when I see my name on the Arkansas locker, it just makes me think of all the situations, all the trials and tribulations that I’ve been through to lead me up to this point to be here at Arkansas. It’s just everything good and bad, it’s just I’m all grateful for every situation that I’ve been through in life.
“Just to be wearing that Arkansas logo and to know the players on the team and the coaching staff and the sports staff, how much work and effort they’ve put into helping us be successful, it’s just important for me to go out there and pay that off to not only the fans but the sports staff, the other players, playing for my bother beside me that I go out there and grind with every day. That’s important to me, is to go out there and play for those people and to wear the Arkansas logo is special. And to be a captain on the Arkansas team is even more special to me. And I told the players that. That’s special. That would be the one word I would say.”
Linebacker Grant Morgan has seen several quarterbacks line up behind center in his time at Arkansas. He sees something special in Franks.
“We have transfer quarterback who came in here and now he’s a captain,” Morgan said. “I’m telling you right now, he loves being a Razorback. He comes into work every single day and puts his hard hat on and goes to work.”
Morgan talked about what the teammates saw in Franks to vote him a captain even though he didn’t even get to Fayetteville until January.
“Feleipe is one of those guys that leads with passion,” Morgan said. “He might not always be the guy to speak up at certain times, but I know when he speaks up, there’s passion in everything he says. He means what he says. He’s not a guy to just talk gibberish.
“I don’t want to speak his behalf, out of respect for him. Because he’s gone through times having to leave Florida, that’s where he grew up. He didn’t want to leave Florida. So knowing he became a captain here, he knows he loves it here, and he knows he’s welcomed here and he’s loved here just as much as anybody else. I’ll let him answer that. I’m sure he’ll get asked that. But it means a lot for him to come here and lead the way he’s led.”
An offensive captain with Franks is senior running back Rakeem Boyd. Franks has made a strong impression on Boyd as well.
“Feleipe is just an outgoing guy,” Boyd said. “You know what I mean. He’s a guy that if you mess up he’s going to tell you that you messed up. He’s not afraid to to come to you. He’s not going to tell you, oh, hey you didn’t do that right. He’s going to come tell you. You know what I mean? He’s that dude that’s going to put that person in their place. He’s a smart guy. He knows football very well. He leads the team. He knows how to do it. He’s an amazing dude.”
Morgan also talked about an interesting rule Sam Pittman put in at Arkansas and how that plays to Franks’ personality on the field.
“First off, the rules with Coach Pittman, we’re not allowed to talk to the offense and the offense is not allowed to talk to us, because he doesn’t want anything to do with trash talking in games.” Morgan said. “That was one of the first rules he brought to Arkansas. He said, ‘I don’t want anyone talking to the offense during plays, the middle of plays, after plays. I don’t want defense talking, offense talking. (Franks) doesn’t talk to us at all. I see him a lot going and meeting with his receivers 1-on-1. If it was one him or if it was on a receiver, he’s always 1-on-1 going to help them and going to talk to them, trying to get on a certain page of understanding what happened.
“I see him leading by the pat on the head with the linemen, like, ‘Hey, we’ve got be right here,’ or, ‘Oh, that’s my bad.’ He’s the leader that will take the responsibility when it’s his, but he’s not afraid to be able to jump somebody and say, ‘Listen, this has to be this way.’ I think that he’s done a really good job with gaining everyone’s respect that way, because if you jump down everyone’s throat all the time, they’re not going to be able to respect you. He’s done a really good job just being able to gain respect of everyone around him.”
Franks was a very highly rated four-star pro-style quarterback coming out of Crawfordville (Fla.) Wakulla High School. But he’s someone who can also run with the football if needed. Pittman recently called him a mobile quarterback.
“That’s a good question,” Franks said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a, I mean yeah, if the play breaks down I want to be able to extend the play. That’s how I’ll explain it. If a play breaks down I want to extend the play and I feel like I’m at that point. Healthy wise, everything, if something breaks down I feel like I should be able to, I’m that caliber that I should be able to make those plays and make something happen or extend a play if something doesn’t go right. And then when I’m asked to run the ball I need to run the ball and I need to do it with full effort. That’s nothing more, nothing less.”
Don’t expect any outlandish rituals or whatever from Franks prior to the game on Saturday.
“Yeah, I am actually kind of a weird superstitious person,” Franks said. “No, but a I pray before every game. That’s one thing that I always do. I always call my brother for words of encouragement before the game. And then my dad and my mom, they always loosen the mood up. I don’t really have any super weird rituals, but I definitely like to pray before a game. That’s the main thing.”
Considering the injury last fall at Florida early in the season, all the COVID-19 happenings since he arrived at Arkansas in January, Franks talked about how happy he is there will be football this Saturday.
“Oh man, it’s wonderful,” Franks said. “I’ve been waiting to play some college football again. It’s been awhile. It’s been over a year since I’ve gotten on a football field and played in a game. Like I said before, I’m anxious, I’m excited just to get out there again. Now it’s with a new team and now it’s with a group of brothers that I’ve been grinding with since I’ve gotten here. I’m excited to go out there and just anxious. I wouldn’t say I’m nervous or anything like that.
“I’m just ready to go out there and compete again. That’s one of the reasons I came to Arkansas, to play in the SEC, to play big-time ball against the best competition. I’m excited to go out there again and get another shot to go out there and compete against a really good team. Now we get 10 of them. It’s kind of exactly what I asked for, so it’s nice.”
Franks and Arkansas will take on Georgia at 3 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.