James Franklin got a tough shake in his junior year. Missouri‘s first foray into SEC play saw the Tigers get rolling-pinned on the field and flattened by injury, only topping Kentucky and Tennessee in-conference. After a strong sophomore year in which he nearly topped 3,000 yards through the air and 1,000 on the ground, Franklin underwhelmed in 2012 but so did virtually every area of the team.
Now Franklin finds himself embroiled in a three-way quarterback competition during spring practice, but at least made the most of it on Thursday by stringing together four consecutive completions against the first-team defense. Meanwhile, fellow starting-quarterback candidates Corbin Berkstresser and Maty Mauk threw interceptions in or near the end zone against the first-team unit.
Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel has made it clear that Franklin must earn his job but also recognizes the brutal year he went through in 2012.
“There’s a lot of things you look at, but I’ve coached the position for a long time, and I’ve never had a quarterback get beat up like (Franklin) did,” Pinkel told the Columbia Daily Tribune recently. “Tears his labrum, comes back, reinjures his shoulder in that joint, has strained ligaments in his knee and can’t play a couple weeks, has a concussion that keeps him out.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. In 34 or 35 years coaching college football, never even came close to seeing anything like it. To say you can evaluate his performance, we’re not going to evaluate his performance as a player. He didn’t play as well, but he was also hurt and missed half the season.”