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?