GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When the Elite 11 released its final rankings for this year, it was no surprise to see Feliepe Franks make the cut.
The consensus 4-star recruit was the first 2016 quarterback invited to the Elite 11 and is one of the highest-ranked prospects at his position.
The experience was surreal for Franks at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
“Playing on that big stage was kind of crazy,” Franks said. “Getting to meet the other top guys you hear about was super cool, just hanging out with them. Then the coaching that we got was awesome.
“It was a big deal, especially for kids that live in the country like me.”
Growing up in Crawfordville, Fla., Franks didn’t have many football resources to help him develop his game. His high school, Wakulla, isn’t exactly a powerhouse program.
“When we got to the Elite 11, it was interesting to see where he was at because I know his background,” said Franks’ mother, Ginger Franks. “He doesn’t have a quarterback coach at the high school. He doesn’t have anybody he goes to after school to train with. He doesn’t have a private quarterback coach.
“We have one high school in our county and it’s a rural community. We don’t have 15-20 coaches. If you want this, you have to figure it out on your own. You can’t let anything stop you, and he didn’t.”
Franks said he was a sponge at the Elite 11. Though he made some fun memories, Franks viewed the experience as a business trip more than anything.
“I definitely took advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “I’ve never been able to learn from somebody who’s been there and done that, like a Trent Dilfer or the assistants under him who played in the NFL or the CFL. All the little things they taught me I brought back home and perfected.
“I’ve never made excuses about what I didn’t have, this or that. I don’t really care. I can still make a way.”
By all accounts, Franks made his mark in Oregon. He drew high praise from 5-star quarterback Shea Patterson, the Elite 11 MVP, as well as Dilfer.
“This kid can freaking pass. I think (Franks) could be as good as anybody,” Dilfer told USA Today, which wrote that Franks could be viewed as the best quarterback in this class four years from now.
At 6-foot-6, 218 pounds with the arm strength to throw 80 yards, Franks has the makings of an NFL passer. He just needs development, which he’ll get at Florida under coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
After the daily training sessions at the Elite 11, most of the quarterbacks would spend time on the phone getting advice and tips from their private QB coach. Franks would just call his mom.
“It’s definitely kept me humble and driven to reach my goals,” Franks said. “In the long run, I know I’ll get coaching. Once you feel like the underdog and you have that drive to beat that next guy, that will take you to the top.
“When I get there, I’m going to maintain that.”