FAYETTEVILLE — Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is in Fayetteville adjusting to a new program and surroundings.
The grad transfer is a senior who enrolled at the University of Arkansas in January. He has stayed in Fayetteville even though the UA has gone to on-line classes with the COVID-19 shutdown. On Friday, he was one of three Razorback players who participated in a teleconference. He talked about how he’s adjusted to Fayetteville.
“I’ll be honest the community, the people I’ve met here have been nothing but awesome,”Franks said. “I have been welcomed. When I was looking for a house here I guess the guy knew who I was. He was super welcoming. It has been nothing but welcoming vibes since I’ve been here.
“Just the adjustment part it has been different. I’ve never had to leave Florida before so it has been different, yeah. At the same time I came here on one mission is for all of us to win is a common goal and then for me to get to the next level. I came here for a purpose. At the same time the community has been awesome. I’m excited to be a part of it. Be around it when all this craziness is over. Get out and meet new people. Everybody has been awesome since I’ve been here.”
Franks and the team didn’t get to have spring practice which would have helped obviously, but he says they are making the most out of the situation.
“I think it obviously it’s not what we wanted, but at the same time we get these extra hours in these meetings,” Franks said. “They are kinda working with us to do this other stuff. That stuff helps when you are learning a new offense. We have a quiz after every meeting and that stuff helps. When you go over that stuff.
“I can speak especially at the quarterback stuff, when you go over that stuff and you come back in fall camp you already know all the calls and everything. It’s just playing with your new teammates and doing all this stuff. Guys who have been doing it for a couple of years it’s just about performing because you all this time to learn the offense. It’s just about taking advantage of it. It will help.”
The NCAA is now allowing the athletes to have eight hours of virtual meetings each week. It was two hours, then four and now eight. Franks likes what is happening with those.
“Yeah, I’ll give you like my personal opinion,” Franks said. “I think it’s been a great addition, obviously. When you get more time granted from the NCAA or wherever to get more hours in with your coaches, especially learning a new system, I think it’s great for everybody. But you also don’t want to, I think at the same time, you don’t want to overload people. You want to give them the right amount and allow them to learn and process and keep doing that every day. You don’t want to overload the players. But at the same time I think it’s good. It gives us a little extra time to learn the system.”
Franks chose Arkansas over Kansas and some others when he opted to leave Florida. He talked about how the journey led him to Fayetteville.
“Shoot man, it’s been a crazy little journey to get here,” Franks said. “You know, I think it was the right fit for me. To touch on a little bit of the why I came here, it was important for me to find somewhere that kind of felt like that next home, I guess.
“And somewhere that I felt like I could thrive. I wouldn’t have as many distractions around me. Somewhere I could just thrive in the classroom as well as on the football field and get to my main goal, which is obviously playing on the next level. So I’ve got one year to do that. Not even really one year. Eight months or so. I think that this was the right place to do it at. Just coming on my visit with coach (Kendal) Briles and coach (Sam) Pittman, I liked the offense as well. On top of that I like the campus and the environment.”
Franks is coming to a school that is coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons. Did that enter into your mind when considering Arkansas?
“My whole mindset going into where I wanted to pick a school,” Franks said. “You know, it would be easy for me to just go to a top program and somewhere where it’s already good, but who am I really helping there? So, I decided to come to Arkansas. When I was at Florida, we went 4-7 and then go out and win 10 games and play in a New Year’s Six Bowl.
“It’s all about, and I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s the motivation. We have it on this team. It just takes that one spark, that one turnaround. Maybe it’s a different coaching staff, a change. I love being the underdog. I think that’s what makes me go harder each and every day to just prove more people wrong. I think that’s a good mentality for this team to have, as well. Just keep proving people wrong. All it takes is a flip of the switch and it will turn around quick.”
In addition to the virtual meetings, Franks is able to actually throw passes to his receivers during this time.
“Yeah, we’re able to throw,” Franks said. “I think the rule around here is you can’t be in large groups. But at the same time, we find a way to throw every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I think it’s important, especially in times like this when everything is limited, it’s important to be in a routine because it’s easy to get distracted and get out of routine. I think it’s very important to set a routine in and follow that routine and make sure you’re going along with that. Yeah, it’s hard to get work in, but at the same time I think it’s doable if you just put the routine in.”
He talked about some of the wide receivers he has been able to work with during this time.
“There’s been multiple guys,” Franks said. “Earlier there was Kendall (Catalon). There’s been Tyson Morris out there. Mike (Woods), I’ve been throwing with Mike a lot. There’s different guys that come out when they’re available. Obviously, school is still going on, so it just kind of varies from day-to-day, but we have a group message. We just kind of communicate who’s going to be there, who’s not, so it works out really good.”
Along with the COVID-19 precautions going on, Franks was asked if he is cautious about licking his fingers when throwing to the receivers.
“You know, yeah,” Franks said. “I’ve been a little more cautious about that kind of stuff, but at the same time that’s just second hand nature. I’m just going out there to work. I’m not thinking about this or…that’s like my free…that’s what clears my mind, when I go out there. So, it’s not something I think about when I’m out there.”
Franks’ junior season was cut short against Kentucky in Week 4 last fall when he broke his ankle on a fourth-down run. He talked about the progress he’s making with that ankle.
“For me, to be honest I’ve been taking it slow,” Franks said. “But at the same time, I’ve had a bunch of time to recover. Dave and the guys here have worked extremely hard getting all of us back. Shoot, I feel really good. I feel almost at 100 percent and everything’s full speed. I think right now it’s just about getting back out on the field. It’s been forever.”
One of Franks’ targets this fall will be true freshman tight end Blayne Toll who he is impressed by so far. Toll also enrolled at midterm.
“I actually have gotten a chance to throw to him and was here obviously when they made that move,” Franks said. “He’s obviously just a freak when you look at him. I mean, you’re like, ‘Oh, you’re this young? OK, that’s weird.’ Know what I mean?”
Franks has been impressed with Briles, Arkansas’ offensive coordinator.
“That was one of the things when I came (for his official visit), I wanted to sit down because that was one of the most important things for me – what kind of offense am I going to be in,” Franks said. “I really liked Coach Briles philosophy, Coach Pittman and everything they bring to the table.
“I think and I do believe that we are building something special here at Arkansas. I am grateful to be a part of it. I am glad that these guys have accepted me to come in and be a part of their team and just be the best team player and help out anyway I can.
“I think it was more about that than anything because I have work ethic. I can build myself back, I can build my ankle back, I can build my leg back and go out there and perform. It was more about just finding somewhere that felt like that second home to finish out may college career. That is more of what it was about.”
Franks then went into detail what he likes most about Briles’ offense.
“I like the freedom about it,” Franks said. “It’s kind of what I’m used to. It’s kind of like what it was at Florida, I had been in that system a little longer, but at the same time…It just gives freedom to the receivers and some of the other people to do some things. I think it’s a really productive offense. It’s going to be really productive here. I believe in it, our players believe in it and our team believes in it.
“If we can go out there and execute and be successful, we can get other people to believe in it. I think that’s what I like about it most. It’s worked before. I’ve seen it work before. It’s been proven to work before, and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Franks admitted that learning the playbook hasn’t been as easy this way as it would have been actually being on the field.
“Yeah, I think it’s hard,” Franks said. “It’s definitely hard when you’re not… Especially for me. I can learn in the classroom, but I’m also a guy who needs to go out on the field and learn like that, as well. It’s definitely hard, but if you put your mind and you put a principle down and have a plan, it makes things a little easier. It’s made things a lot easier, being super helpful and open to us.
“I’ll be honest, I think it’s not going to effect us too much because ever since I stepped on campus, these guys have been some of the most motivated guys I’ve been around. I think if you have that, I’ve seen teams turnaround in a year with just motivation. I think we’re on the right track. I don’t think of it as a limitation. I think if we approach it the right way, it’ll be a blessing.”
Right tackle Dalton Wagner is one of the players that will be asked to block for Franks this fall. Wagner talked about his impressions of Franks.
“Since Day 1 he’s like a puzzle piece and has stepped in and done a great job with leading and doing his stuff,” Wagner said. “He’s a big guy, too. It’s kind of cool to see him back there, because of how big he is, being able to see over everybody. Again, like I said, he’s been a leader in what we’ve been able to do. I’m excited to see what he can do come fall.”
At Florida, Franks completed 367 of 622 passes for 4,593 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed 189 times for 438 yards and eight more touchdowns.
He will compete with KJ Jefferson, Jack Lindsey, John Stephen Jones and Malik Hornsby at quarterback this fall.