Franklin stays true in midst of QB competition

Ben Frederickson is an award-winning writer for FOX Sports Midwest. His work has appeared in the Columbia Missourian, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Times, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Casper Star-Tribune.


COLUMBIA, Mo. —
James Franklin is no different.

There
was a thought the always-upbeat and super-polite Missouri quarterback
some labeled as soft last year would find and show an edge this this
offseason as he engaged in a public fight to keep his starting
job.

Surely, a player who was healthy again after a
recurring right shoulder injury limited his junior season would bristle
at the thought of a teammate, most likely redshirt freshman Maty Mauk,
taking his place, right?

Well, not exactly. Like it
or not, Mr. Nice Guy is here to stay. Franklin proved it Saturday when
he was surrounded by reporters following Mizzou’s annual Black and Gold
game.

James,
should you have to win this job
back?

“Yes, sir. Definitely,” he said.
“You can say there were injuries and stuff last year, but even when I
did play, I didn’t always perform very well. I definitely had to earn it
and compete for my spot.”

James, is it hard being around
Mauk?

“No, sir. It’s not something I
really think about much,” he said.”I just kind of go out there and play.
I coach him up when there are things he may not have seen that I saw,
just give him pointers and things like that. I don’t think it’s really
tough.”

James, is it tiring to answer all these
questions about the competition?

“No,
sir. It’s not tiring at all, ” he said. “It’s not too bad. It’s
definitely fun. It’s great for all of us getting better to know that
anyone can win the spot, and that I can lose my job. I think it’s good
for the team.”

Answers like these go against the
grain of the movie-image, take-no-prisoner quarterback. While Franklin
is not one to shy away from contact or collision on the field, he tends
to avoid it in pretty much every other way. And despite this unique
demeanor, he still appears to be Missouri’s best option headed into the
2013 season.

On Saturday, he completed 9-of-15 passes
for 80 yards  — a solid performance that was more sound than
his competitors’.

Mauk completed six-of-17 passes for
72 yards, and threw two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore Corbin
Berkstresser completed nine-of-18 passes for 93 yards, and threw two
picks as well.

Franklin, Mauk and Mizzou offensive
coordinator Josh Henson all said they expect the competition for the
starting spot to last until August.

“They just have
to play better than the other guys consistently, over and over again,”
Henson said. “We’ve graded all the scrimmages and we have an opinion on
each practice … So to stand here and say this guy is better than that
guy, I’m not ready to do that yet.”

If Franklin is in
fact the best, don’t expect to hear it from him.

James, do
you anticipate being No. 1 on the depth chart this
season?

“I hope so,” he said. “Yes,
sir.”

You can follow Ben
Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred) and contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com