CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. — It’s a chilly Tuesday night on the countryside of Crawfordville, Fla., and Feleipe Franks doesn’t get home until after dark.
It’s the week of his state championship game, so he’s just finished a grueling three-hour practice where the energy level of his teammates failed to meet his standard. Too many dead fish, as Florida coach Jim McElwain would say.
Between their stench and his sweat, Franks needs a shower. Then he has online coursework to do so he can enroll early at UF the following month.
Oh, and his foot hurts.
Probably the last thing he feels like doing happens to be his first order of business after pulling into his driveway.
Still wearing his knee brace and dirty socks from practice, Franks hops out of his car and immediately heads to the dreaded shed. In there is horse feed and a big red bucket waiting to be filled.
This is not a drill.
Every night, no matter what he has going on, Franks feeds his family’s two horses when he arrives home. Whether there’s a coach about to call him or a road trip he needs to get ready for, the chores come first in his household.
“I try not to think about the attention he gets and that he’s this high-profile quarterback,” said his mother, Ginger Franks. “At the end of the day, he’s still my kid. He still comes home and feeds the horses and gets fussed at for not his cleaning his room or making his bed.”
After filling the bucket, Franks takes it to the water hose to get the food soggy. He carries the now-not-so-light bucket to the horse feeder and unloads, even taking a few moments to watch the big guys chow down.
Then it’s wash, rinse and repeat the next night. Franks has had horses his whole life.
“I can tell you how he learned to run,” his mother said. “The horses would get aggravated with him throwing his football out there and they would start chasing him. He and his brother, and they’d have to go jump in the hay ring. That’ll teach you to run fast.”
Franks likes animals, but he’s not a horse guy. Riding isn’t his thing.
But caring for them over the years hasn’t bothered him.
“I’m a family-first guy,” Franks said. “I know if my mom calls and tells me I need to come home to feed the horses or do this, that’s what I’m doing. I love to help my parents and take things off their shoulders.
“They go to work everyday. I just go to school and play football. They’ve done everything within their power to give me a better life. Sometimes taking care of the horses isn’t fun, but it’s the least I can do.”