It’s not out of the ordinary for quarterbacks in college football to double as standout baseball players. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played baseball for North Carolina State, and he still has the option to join the New York Yankees in 2019 and leave his $140 million contract behind. (Don’t worry, he won’t.)
But not every college QB has the same future as the six-time Pro Bowl selection. Some need a backup plan for when their football career reaches its end, and Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has made the move to secure his future in professional sports.
After being selected in the 31st round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Franks signed a $40,000 contract with the Boston Red Sox, according to The Boston Globe. While Franks previously said that his focus will be with coach Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators as they pursue an SEC East division title, the redshirt junior secured what he called something “I could lean my shoulder on one day.”
Franks hasn’t played baseball in almost five years since his days with Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Florida. But The Globe reported that, despite his hiatus from the diamond, Franks’ fastball touched 94 miles per hour in a pitching session after the draft took place.
At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Franks’ powerful right arm figures to be a long-term project in the MLB. But Franks was ranked as the No. 117 overall player in Florida after his junior season of high school by Perfect Game, so the raw talent is still there. He didn’t play baseball as a senior because he graduated early and enrolled at Florida in the spring of 2016.
Franks joins former Florida starter Jeff Driskel (29th round of 2013 MLB Draft) as the most recent Gator QB to be selected by the Red Sox.
He’s not considered a high-end NFL prospect at the moment, so it’ll take two really strong seasons for the Florida quarterback to turn heads before the 2021 NFL Draft arrives. The 2018 Peach Bowl Offensive MVP improved greatly last year as he was one of only 12 FBS quarterbacks to throw more than 20 touchdown passes and fewer than seven interceptions.
“I haven’t played [baseball] like in five years, but it was great,” Franks told Florida beat writer Scott Carter about his new baseball contract. “They gave me the opportunity to play baseball for a great organization. It’s just a great opportunity I have that maybe I could lean my shoulder on one day, once football is over with. It’s something that just happened.”
Franks previously said he was “flattered” by Boston drafting him, but added that he’s “living out my dream of being the quarterback of the Florida Gators.”
His focus may be in Gainesville this offseason, but it’s very possible that Franks finds himself in Boston’s minor league farm system pursuing a career as a pro baseball pitcher. If you recall, Franks certainly wouldn’t be the first former UF starting quarterback to make the transition back to baseball.