With the names of the past three people to play quarterback for the Missouri football team currently listed on NFL rosters, it shouldn’t be surprising that James Franklin was the focus of questioning during Gary Pinkel’s press conference Monday.
The Tigers coach answered questions, many regarding his sophomore quarterback, as a part of Big 12 Conference Media Days in Dallas.
2. Texas A&M
3. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas State
9. Iowa State
Franklin hasn’t started a game yet, but his coach already is being asked to compare him to players like Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, the Tigers past three starting quarterbacks.
Pinkel said in an online broadcast of the conference that he doesn’t “compare players much because it’s not fair,” but he offered an assessment of Franklin’s skills, likening them to those of Smith.
“I think James has great movement,” Pinkel said. “I think he can extend the play. I think he can also do damage with his feet, not only in the passing game, but in the running game. And we really haven’t had that since we had Brad Smith.”
Franklin flashed some of that running ability as a freshman last season. Backing up Gabbert, Franklin attempted only 14 passes, but he gained 122 yards on 23 rushing attempts and scored two rushing touchdowns.
Pinkel said it’s the teammates around Franklin that might be the key to his success.
“We have nine returning starters around him,” Pinkel said. “It’s the most experienced players I’ve had around a new quarterback since I’ve been a head football coach. … My suggestion would be can those nine players play at a higher level than they’ve ever played before. … Can all those guys up their game to a different level? And if they can do that, James Franklin’s going to be fine.”
During his time at the podium, Pinkel touched on other issues, such as the Longhorn Network. Texas’ television network has been stirring up controversy for planning to air high school football games. Some are calling this an unfair recruiting advantage. Pinkel called it “a lack of common sense.”
Pinkel was also asked about the status of defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and whether or not he will be suiting up for the Tigers this season. Richardson was originally a member of Missouri's 2009 recruiting class but has yet to come to campus.
“He finishes his class up this week,” Pinkel said. “We expect to see him practice on reporting day.”
Missouri preseason football camp begins Aug. 4.