James Franklin likes a dose of John Mayer before games. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)
Starting quarterback James Franklin has not yet begun to establish his legacy on the field, but this much is already clear: Missouri football has never seen a gentleman quite like him.
While his teammates’ pregame playlists include hip-hop and heavy rock, Franklin plugs in to some tunes with a little less pop.
“I don’t really listen to fast tempo music,” Franklin said.
“I kind of like to listen more to John Mayer, something like that.”
That’s right. Before willingly subjecting himself to full speed, bone-rattling collisions with 300 pound men, Mizzou’s starting quarterback warms up with something to the tune of, “Your body is a wonderland.”
“I don’t necessarily like to get amped up,” Franklin said. “I like to think. I like to relax.”
Each successive quarterback in assistant coach David Yost’s system has been markedly different from the last. Yes, they all ran the spread offense, with the quarterback positioned several yards behind the center in the shotgun. The similarities really end there.
“He can do some things that Blaine couldn’t do and Chase couldn’t do,” coach Gary Pinkel said.
Blaine Gabbert had all the preferred physical qualities of an NFL quarterback, despite questions about his so-called intangibles. Chase Daniel was a winner–an undersized, stubborn competitor who threw a catchable ball. Brad Smith had the wheels.
“He’s not Brad Smith running the football,” Yost said, “as far as that elusive wide receiver playing quarterback, but he ran the ball in high school.
“He has a feel for cutting back; he has a feel for the line blocking scheme in front of him,” Yost said.
So he can run, but can he carry the team? Franklin hasn’t yet shown the same kind of momentum-feeding leadership flashed by Smith and Daniel. His throws lack the velocity Gabbert put on the ball. Still, he could be the calmest field general the Tigers have lined up behind center during Pinkel’s tenure.
Asked what he likes most out of his quarterback, senior wide receiver Wes Kemp pointed to Franklin’s composure.
“I don’t see him get rattled too much. He’s not a curser, so he doesn’t really get down on himself. He might throw a bad ball one play, and the next play, he can’t remember what he did,” Kemp said.
During coach Pinkel’s tenure, a lack of continuity at quarterback has never hindered the Tigers–at least not yet. But until 11 a.m. Saturday, when Mizzou kicks-off against Miami of Ohio, no one really knows if Franklin can keep that streak of success going.
Critics question his ability to play with passion and intensity. Yet if he plays smart football and develops his ability to make quick decisions in the pocket, Franklin appears to have the gifts to guide a sufficiently talented Mizzou football team to a solid finish.