FAYETTEVILLE — Junior wide receiver Mike Woods worked with grad transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks before the COVID-19 shut down the University of Arkansas and other schools.
Woods, who tied for the team lead last season with 33 receptions for 423 yards and four touchdowns, likes what he has seen from the former Florida quarterback to this point.
“His makeup, he’s a big dude and he can really throw the ball,” Woods said of Franks. “As far as being a leader, I think he came in and did a good job. Guys respect him. He’s loud, he’s going to let guys know what’s up when he needs to let them know. I think he’ll be real good for us and I’m excited.”
Without spring drills, Woods and the team didn’t get to see everything that Franks brings to the table, but liked what he saw to this point.
“We didn’t get a chance to you know what I’m saying see all of that,” Woods said. “But as far as throwing routes with him, like I said, he’s got good zip on the ball. He can throw it deep. He’s accurate. I think he’s going to be real good for us.
“As far as running the ball, I think he’ll be able to do that. So I think he’ll be real good for us as far as I’ve seen. I enjoy catching routes with him and stuff like that.”
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 touchdowns.
Woods also was impressed with how redshirt freshman KJ Jefferson was coming along following shoulder surgery.
“Yessir, he’s been throwing with us, as well,” Woods said. “I think he’s been looking good. He’s got real zip on the ball. He throws that thing. I think he’s been looking real good coming off his shoulder injury. He’s been working with the trainers every day. He’s getting that flexibility back. I think he looks real good. As we know, he’s a big guy. He can run the ball, he can throw the ball, so he’s looking really good, as well.”
While Woods touted Franks’ leadership skills, Sam Pittman recently put a lot of praise on the junior receiver for his taking charge of the wide out’s room.
“I’ve tried to be more vocal but as far as what I do on a day-to-day, I don’t try to be like that,” Woods said. “I just work hard and people I guess just gravitate towards that. They kind of like follow me. I think that I’m more than happy to step up into that. That’s just natural. I think I just work hard and come in every day with that mindset that we got to get better. We got to change what’s been going on around here for the past year. So, I just try to come in here and attack everything no matter how I’m feeling. My mindset every day is that even if I’m feeling bad, these guys have no choice but to follow me and my actions.”
Woods and the receivers are the only position on the team returning their coach from last season. Pittman retained Justin Stepp in a move that pleased Woods.
“It was great because we don’t have to go through the getting to know,” Woods said. “Every other position group, they had a new coach, so we didn’t have to go through that whole phase of getting to know someone and getting to know the coaching staff and all that kind of stuff. As far as that, stayed the same for us, so we didn’t really have to go through that change. As far as having to get acclimated to the new coaching staff, that part made it a lot easier for us, so I thought that was a great thing for all of us to be able to keep the same coach.”
While Stepp is familiar to Woods, the offensive group is having to learn a new offense with Kendal Briles. Woods talked about how that is going.
“Yessir, it’s like a new system, but for me it’s kind of close to my high school style of offense,” Woods said. “Because Coach Briles, I believe he played under my high school head coach, and a lot of the offense has similarities. My thing, it was kind of like I had to go back to some of the high school setup as far as the offense. It’s real simple for us all. It really makes the game less thinking for all of us. It allows us to play a lot faster. So, I think it’s a great system as far as allowing us to play fast.”
Since the team is learning a new offense, how much concern is there about the lack of reps the team will get without spring ball?
“As far as being concerned, no we’re not concerned because we’re still keeping up with the system and the playbook and stuff,” Woods said. “On top of that, everybody in the nation is going through it. We just got to do what we can do to get that step ahead of everybody else right now in this time right here, so we can come back. We just got to do what we can do to get that step ahead of everybody else right now in this time right here so we can come back, whenever we’re allowed to come back, and just come back and be able to click. Just jump into things and not have to repeat stuff that we already went over and stuff that we’re going over right now.”