Coach Pinkel is confident James Franklin is ready to play

Story by The Associated Press
Photos by Karen Mitchell

James Franklin (1) drops back to make a pass during practice on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Franklin is confident that he will be ready for the first game, no backup needed.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel says there’s no doubt quarterback James Franklin will be ready for the opener. Both Pinkel and Franklin said after the opening day of fall camp that he could play right now.

Pinkel said Thursday night that Franklin is showing no signs of problems coming off shoulder surgery in March. Franklin said he was careful with his throws and hadn’t been hit yet but gradually will air it out.

“James looked pretty good overall,” Pinkel said. “If you just walked out here and didn’t know he had surgery, you wouldn’t think anything was up. You just marvel at him. It’s very, very encouraging to think where we were back in spring football when this whole thing went down.”

Dorial Green-Beckham pulls in a pass at Missouri’s first football practice.

Missouri, 8-5 last season, begins two-a-day practices Friday, with the first full-pad workout set for Monday. The season opener is Sept. 1 against Southeastern Louisiana.

“Obviously, I haven’t been hit yet, but I feel like I could play tomorrow,” Franklin said. “Today I was extra careful and not fully letting it go, but I put some velocity on and felt good.”

In his first year as starter Franklin completed 63 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, plus rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns. The junior is the Tigers’ only quarterback with college experience heading into the school’s first season in the Southeastern Conference.

Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser is the backup quarterback and played with the first string throughout spring practice after Franklin was hurt.

Freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, a wide receiver from Springfield, Mo., who was the nation’s top recruit, is not listed on the depth chart. Pinkel said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Green-Beckham will have to earn a spot just like any other newcomer.

“We’ll let him come around like everybody else does,” Pinkel said. “Like any freshman on our team, you start at the bottom of the list. And I think he respected that. I told Jeremy Maclin the same thing.”

Missouri is limiting media access to first-year players for the first time under Pinkel, entering his 12th season, because of Green-Beckham, who’ll be available for the first time on Sunday.

Wide receiver T.J. Moe, the top returning pass-catcher, was limited with a hamstring injury sustained several weeks ago. Moe said he’d be at full speed soon.

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