FAYETTEVILLE — Feleipe Franks of Crawfordville, Fla. came to the University of Arkansas grad transferred from the University of Florida dreaming in one year to improve the Razorbacks on his way to the NFL.
Arkansas native son Grant Morgan walked on to the UA five years ago from Greenwood dreaming of excelling as a Razorback.
Their dreams continue it was announced Thursday after Franks offensively and Morgan defensively led the Razorbacks renaissance from the 0-8, 0-8 SEC campaigns in 2018 and 2019 under the since ousted Chad Morris regime to under first-year Coach Sam Pittman 3-7 that conceivably could have concluded 6-4 given circumstances of 2-point losses at Auburn and at Missouri and the 3-point loss to LSU in Fayetteville.
With Arkansas’ Texas Bowl game against the TCU Horned Frogs that was to be played Thursday night in Houston cancelled since Tuesday because of too many covid-19 coronavirus positive tests and too close contact tracing among the Horned Frogs, Franks announced Thursday he is declaring for the 2021 pro draft.
A Floridian never in Arkansas until visiting upon putting his name in the transfer portal and then transferring in January, Franks thanked Pittman, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and his teammates for “welcoming me with open arms with “friendships made in a short time that will last a lifetime” and “you have made my last year of college football truly better than I could have imagined.”
Though he could have returned to Arkansas since the NCAA grants 2020 seniors the options of 2021 senior eligibility because of covid-19’s havoc on the 2020 season, Franks said his Arkansas year proves he’s ready to declare for the draft which he did Thursday on social media.
“I feel truly prepared to take this next step in my life and chase my dreams of playing in the NFL, ”Franks said. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter holds.
Morgan, a UA graduate taking graduate courses since 2019 already named first-team All-SEC defensive player for leading the SEC with 111 tackles, ranking second nationally, and one of three finalists for the Brandon Burlsworth Award honoring the nation’s best player originating as a walk-on, and deferring plans eventually to enroll in medical school, will return for a sixth senior year as a second-team Coaches All-American, it was announced Thursday by the American Football Coaches Federation.
Morgan served as a 2020 defensive co-captain though he had never started a game lettering three years as a reserve before starting nine games this season and missing one with an injured knee.
Upon Morgan announcing his return, six more seniors announced they are returning as Razorbacks in 2021.
Pro prospect Franks knew this year was his best time to turn pro.
Nonetheless, after missing the Missouri game with injured ribs, the same game that Morgan injured ribs, Franks didn not “opt out” as many would-be NFL collegians did fearing pre-draft injuries in late season games and bowl games. He started with still ailing ribs in the lopsided loss to nationally No. 1 SEC champion Alabama and was practicing to start against TCU in the bowl game.
“I want to finish what I started,” Franks said on Dec. 22 after a bowl practice in Fayetteville. “I came here to compete for a season and that’s what I’m going to do. I owe it to these guys, I owe it to Coach Pittman, I owe it to all these guys that welcomed me into the program and helped me take care of my body when I first got here.”
A Florida Gator from 2016-2019 starting eight games as a 2017 redshirt freshman while the Gators struggled 4-7 under by season’s end fired Coach Jim McElwain, Franks then blossomed in 2018 as the every game starter for Coach Dan Mullen’s 10-3 Gators.
Franks started the first three games of 2019 but in Game Three suffered a season-ending broken ankle.
Supplanted by replacement Kyle Trask as the 2019 Gators went 11-2 with Trask concluding 2020 as a Heisman Trophy finalist,
Franks transferred to Arkansas with the Gators understanding and respect which they showed en masse congratulating him for a fine performance in a losing cause against the SEC East champion Gators.
Franks improved Arkansas’ standing and his own draft stock his lone year in Fayetteville.
Turning around the Razorbacks’ rudderless ship starting five different quarterbacks in 2019 off a 2-10 overall team that nonconference got whipped by Western Kentucky and also lost at home to San Jose State, Franks, 6-6, 228, commands pro attention upon as a Razorbacks completing 163 of 238 passes for 2,107 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also ran the ball 105 times for 204 yards and a touchdown and especially netted NFL scouts attention for his long passes to receivers Treylon Burks and Mike Woods.
Franks next stop is showcasing his talent to NFL scouts in the prestigious Senior Bowl all-star game Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala.