James Franklin named Missouri football's starting quarterback

Thursday, August 15, 2013 | 8:45 p.m. CDT; updated 7:34 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 26, 2013
Starting quarterback James Franklin stretches with his teammates during their first practice Aug. 1. Franklin has been named the starter for the upcoming season and will serve as one of the team's captains.

COLUMBIA — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel named James Franklin the starting quarterback several hours after Franklin's impressive performance in the team's Thursday scrimmage.

The senior was 16-for-21 for 189 yards and two touchdowns against the Missouri defense, but Pinkel did not immediately announce Franklin had won the job. The Missouri football website posted the news on Thursday night, along with a video of Pinkel addressing the move in his office.

"James has shown that he's very capable of leading this team at a high level," Pinkel said, "and we fully expect him to do that."

After poor performances by Franklin, Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser in this year's Spring Game, Franklin seemed to earn the top spot on the depth chart by default. He made the fewest mistakes in an afternoon of underwhelming quarterback play.

When Mauk and Berkstresser didn't stand out in Saturday's scrimmage, Franklin seemed to tighten his grasp on the starting spot with a 174-yard, two-touchdown day. He had his strongest performance of fall camp Thursday, and Pinkel has now apparently seen enough.

"He's really developed as a leader of this offense, and of this team," Pinkel said. "And we feel he's ready to be the difference-maker he was before all of the health challenges he dealt with last season."

Franklin, who has been the primary starter for two seasons after backing up Blaine Gabbert in 2010, saw his numbers dip greatly during his first season in the SEC. Shoulder, knee and concussion issues kept him out of three games, and he struggled when he did play, with only 10 passing touchdowns and a low 59.4 completion percentage.

But he is healthy now, and it shows.

"The health definitely helps," Franklin said after the scrimmage. "That's the most important thing. I'm just blocking everything out, not even focusing on it. The only time I think about the quarterback competition is when you guys ask me about it."

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