Franklin feels support of his Missouri teammates

Missouri quarterback James Franklin is becoming more of a vocal leader this season.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin is becoming more of a vocal leader this season. Photo by The Associated Press.

COLUMBIA — Missouri quarterback James Franklin hasn’t won the starting quarterback job. But he’s won over his teammates, including one competing for his job.

After a rough season full of injuries that saw Franklin take a lot of criticism from fans, his teammates seem to be behind the senior 100 percent.

He was voted as one of four team captains prior to the start of camp last week, and he’s made a positive impression on redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk, who is battling in camp to take Franklin’s starting job away from him.

“If you don’t know James, he’s a good person, he’s a role model, he’s someone you want to be around,” Mauk said. “On and off the field, he’s doing everything right.”

Mauk said Franklin has been more than helpful when he has questions. The two roomed together during camp last year and Mauk said Franklin helped him learn the playbook.

“He’s someone I really look up to,” Mauk said. “If I need something, ‘Hey James, help me with this, can you?’ I remember a couple of months ago I texted him to just help me with things outside of football. I mean for him to do what he’s done, it doesn’t really surprise me, but I’m just happy he did reach out and wants to help me learn everything and be a great quarterback here at Missouri.”

Franklin’s personality seems to fit Mauk’s description. Franklin often refers to people as sir or ma’am and always tries spin things in a positive light.

Still, he said he didn’t know for sure if he would be voted captain.

“I’ve never been the most vocal leader until this last year,” Franklin said. “That’s something I thought that would be a great opportunity if I could be a captain, but I wasn’t really 100 percent confident knowing I would be a captain for sure.

“It feels pretty good the guys picked me to want to lead the team.”

While Franklin’s teammates are behind him as a leader, some fans have been critical of him. He took a lot of heat from fans for his decision not to take a pain shot prior to the game against Arizona State last year. He battled injuries and missed all or parts of six games last year.

During SEC media days last month he was asked who had the rudest fanbase in the SEC. He replied Missouri did. That created a bit of a stir and Franklin clarified the rudest comment directed at him last year came from a Missouri fan.

An improved year on the field may win some of those fans back. Franklin averaged 173.6 passing yards per game last year, down from 220.4 in 2011. His rushing yards dropped from 75.5 yards per game in 2011 to 13.6 yards per game last year.

While the order of the quarterbacks has yet to shake out, those who see Franklin in practice have positive remarks.

“He’s playing very confident and knows and trusts what he’s doing,” receiver Marcus Lucas said. “I think he’s been more of a vocal leader for our team, which has been great. Those are the main things. No one has ever questioned his character. Everyone knows you’re going to get the same guy every day.”

Quarterback Corbin Berkstresser agreed.

“Right now he’s playing at the top of his game right now,” Berkstresser said. “He’s whipping some balls in there I’ve never seen him whip in. He’s got great footwork also.”

No matter how the quarterback battle turns out, Franklin’s teammates seem to be behind him.

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