Three Transfer Options for Gators QB Feleipe Franks
The news was somber for some fans, yet expected, when Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks announced his intentions to leave Florida following the 2019 season on Monday.
But after Kyle Trask shined in Franks' absence, and following the emergence of talent in his backup Emory Jones, it became Franks' best interest to explore other options. He released a statement claiming that he will assess his NFL Draft and transfer choices, but after suffering a dislocated ankle in what was supposed to be a make-or-break season for the redshirt junior, it'd be ideal for Franks to stay in school for one more year and to prove himself for the 2021 NFL Draft instead.
With that being said, which schools provide the best opportunity for Franks? This post assumes, that Franks, a redshirt junior, will be a graduate transfer granted immediate eligibility to play in 2020.
Going from the bottom-east tip of the country to the Pacific Northwest may not sound ideal for the Florida native, but Franks would be a perfect fit for Washington State and head coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense.
While plenty will point towards Oklahoma as Transfer QBU (think Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts), Leach has found success with back to back transfer students to run his offense.
First, there was Gardner Minshew, who went on to become the Jacksonville Jaguars sixth round pick this year and has taken the starting job away from Nick Foles. The fan-favorite quarterback broke Washington State's single season passing yards record in his lone season with the Cougars with 4779 yards, and tying the touchdown mark with 38.
In 2019, Anthony Gordon - a former community college transfer - broke both of Minshew's records with 5228 yards and 45 scores. Gordon, as well as his backup and the Cougars' No. 3 QB, are all redshirt seniors that are now out of eligibility. Leach has a three-star true freshman in Gunner Cruz, and another is on the way in Jayden de Laura who is ranked slightly higher than Cruz, but neither can provide the experience within college football that Leach's previous quarterbacks have had.
Franks can, and his growth within Dan Mullen's offense should translate to the Air Raid fairly well. His mobility both within the pocket and extending plays would do him serious favors, and a highly productive season in an offense tailor-made to boost a quarterback's numbers would bode well for Franks' NFL Draft aspirations in 2021.
As widely known, Florida and Louisiana State had a huge recruiting battle over Franks' services, that Florida ultimately won. According to 247Sports.com, Franks began unofficially visiting Florida in 2013, and proceeded to alternate visits between the schools (among others, but primarily Florida and LSU) until enrolling at Florida in January of 2016. Franks had even committed to LSU at one point.
And who was head coach at the time? Les Miles, who now leads the Kansas Jayhawks. And the Jayhawks' starting quarterback, Carter Stanley, is set to graduate following the season. Miles has specifically said that finding a quarterback this offseason is a priority for him, despite already having a QB commit in the 2020 class.
In which case, Miles could reunite with Franks as he builds Kansas' football program up, letting Franks hold the reigns of the offense for a year while Da’Vonshai Harden Jr, the 2020 commit, is groomed for the future.
While Kansas doesn't sound ideal for a former Florida Gators quarterback, Stanley found success in 2019 under Miles, passing for 2664 yards and 24 touchdowns. Both of those numbers either surpass or tie Franks' career highs.
While Florida and LSU stole the show in Franks' recruitment, he visited UCF three times during the process. Perhaps this had to do with his brother Jordan playing tight end, among other positions, at UCF during the time frame, but there was clearly interest between the two parties.
Now, the head coaches that recruited Franks, George O'Leary and Scott Frost, are no longer with the Knights, but UCF has produced quarterbacks out of their spread offense over the past couple of years in McKenzie Milton and Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel, a true freshman, started for the majority of the 2019 season in place of Milton, throwing for 3393 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. Milton has been out since late last season with a catastrophic leg injury that likely cost him his football career.
UCF would appear to be the least likely option of these three schools, but considering how unlikely it is for Milton to return, Gabriel being so young, the fact that backup quarterback Quadry Jones has just entered the transfer portal and Brandon Wimbush will graduate this year (he transitioned to wide receiver after losing the QB job to Gabriel)... it wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world to see Franks make the two hour trek to Orlando to finish his college career.
Oregon: Set to lose starting quarterback Justin Herbert to the NFL Draft, Oregon plans on starting redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough going forward. He has worked with the first team in practice this season, so the team is clearly confident in his abilities, and he's completed 80% of his 15 career passing attempts for 144 yards and three touchdowns.
Much like UCF, Oregon would appear unlikely given the team's confidence in a young quarterback. But could Oregon look towards an experienced quarterback for another year of development for Shough?
Louisiana State: LSU's situation is similar to Oregon's, with a highly-touted backup set to replace Joe Burrow after this season when Burrow leaves for the NFL Draft. Brennan is talented and was the No. 6 pro-style QB in the 2017 signing class, per 247Sports, but has certainly not flashed the way Shough has.
The redshirt sophomore has tallied 561 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions in clean-up duty at LSU, dating back to his freshman year. That production is nothing to hang your hat on, and if LSU is concerned about Brennan being the de-facto QB1, then perhaps Franks can find his way to the school he considered the most besides Florida.