It's been quite the recruiting weekend for LSU, first with the pickup of stud 2015 running back Derrius Guice, the news that Jevonte Domond has officially inked his scholarship papers and will join the 2014 signing class on campus this summer and now the news that 2016 composite 4-star QB prospect Feleipe' Franks jumped on board as well.
Franks sports an excellent frame at 6'5", 205 pounds, and boasts offers from all over the country including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan State, and Florida State. The Crawfordville, Florida native is widely considered one of the top 50 players in the 2016 recruiting class, so for LSU to be able to secure his commitment this early in the process is both an exciting accomplishment for our staff and something we will likely be sweating out throughout the next two years. Cam Cameron and Bradley Dale Peveto are his listed recruiters and Cam Cameron just recently stopped in to visit Franks days ago. It's quite clear that any rust Cameron may have had as a recruiter was quickly shaken. He's played a major role in securing multiple high-level prospects, including Brandon Harris, Malachi Dupre and now Franks, among others.
Another thing that's becoming increasingly clear is that Cameron is really narrowing his scope on QB prospects with some ability to be mobile. The lone exception to this rule may be 2018 (2018!) QB recruit Zadock Dinkelmann, and even he shows some ability to scramble and pick up yardage outside the pocket. Cameron's found success running all manners of offense, but his typical calling cards have been more of the pro-style pocket passers like Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. That said, the larger trend toward more mobile players at the QB position obviously play into Cameron's strategy as well. What this means for the LSU offense likely won't be fleshed out fully until later this season, but we should get a good idea of what Cameron wants to do with an all-new QB, who will be more of a rushing threat than Mettenberger ever could.
The other thing worth noting is that in my time following recruiting closely (early 2000's), I can't remember LSU being such a heavy player with so many national quarterback recruits. First Rettig and Jennings, then Harris, now Franks and Dinkelmann for the future. You could even lump Mettenberger into that crew. It's an excellent sign, considering we haven't really been QB factory at any point in our school's history.
Back to Franks, while I mentioned his running ability, it's no indictment against his ability to throw the football. Let's check the tape:
editorial sidebar: HUDL finally has embed capability. Woo hoo!
The first thing that stands out to me is that he throws with really nice touch on the football. The first two tosses on the reel are deep balls that are placed right over the shoulder of the receiver, in stride. There's also some very effortless arm strength going on here. Franks doesn't have to torque his body to get the ball long distances, as it flies off really easily and goes a long way. I don't see that crazy robo-arm arm strength that you see in Brandon Harris, but it's just easy for him.
Mechanics wise, I'm a big fan of his footwork. He does an excellent job of getting his feet set on his throws, even when he scrambles, he nearly always resets his feet to ensure he makes the most accurate and powerful pass. It's a great sign for a young QB and something I think Brandon Harris lacked as a prospect. Obviously it can and will be taught, but to show those early signs will only help him. You'll also see him doing little things like pump fakes and using his eyes to look off defenders. It all displays an advanced level of training and understanding of the game.
As for weaknesses, the main thing that stands out is that the ball seems to come off his hand a bit oddly. It's not the smooth, clean spiral I'd like to see. Peyton Manning is a firm believer that the ball should have a little bit of a waggle, but his ball seems to duck with some frequency. I can't be sure why this is happening, though. He also seems to have a wind-up in his throwing motion at times. It's not horribly belabored, but I would love to see it tightened up just a smidge for a quicker release.
Here's a video of him competing at an Elite 11 event in Orlando. At one point you can hear one of the coaches call him "big arm." He's reportedly performed very well in other camps as well. Up close and personal, he sure does look the park. Physically, he reminds me a bit of Colin Kaepernick, though not as explosive as a runner. ESPN analyst Craig Haubert had this to say about his performance at that Elite 11 event:
Need to know: The focus might be on the 2015 class, but the E11 featured a 2016 quarterback to make a note about. Feleipe’ Franks is a promising prospect with a wealth of ability, and the Crawfordville (Fla.) Wakulla quarterback was one of the top performers, in our eyes at the event, regardless of class. Tall (6-5), with a long and lengthy frame to develop, he possesses very good physical upside. The rising junior displayed a strong arm, good accuracy and just threw a pretty ball. Evaluations still roll on for this 2015 class, but Franks showed he is a name to remember for 2016.
Our own Bud Elliot had this to say after seeing him up close and in person:
Feleipe Franks, of Crawfordville (Fla.) Wakulla, probably has more potential than anyone at the event. While he did not have a great day, the 2016 prospect already holds offers from Alabama, Florida and Florida State. At 6'5 and 210 pounds, he has the frame to be a 240-pound monster and has a free and easy delivery. There is definitely some baseball in his stroke.
His older brother, Jordan, signed with UCF last year as a receiver. Assuming LSU can hold on to his commitment, he looks like quite the prospect, one that could even contend for 5-star status during his senior campaign. Considering the recent news of Hayden Rettig's departure, LSU will need to land a quarterback or two in 2015 and perhaps another to go along with Franks.
Kudos to Cameron and staff for getting on his guy early. He'll be a big-time, national recruit.