COLUMBIA — James Franklin heard the question, but did not immediately react. When asked for his initial impression after he’d been told he would be Missouri’s starting quarterback, Franklin let a few beats pass, possibly collecting his thoughts.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“Yaaaaay,” he said, with mock delight.
Most of Franklin’s other responses Friday on the quarterback competition, which came to a close Thursday night, were polite but short, with a dash of weariness thrown in.
For instance, Franklin’s response when asked if he expected to win the job:
“I guess so, yes sir,” he said.
His answer when asked if his teammates said anything to him about it?
“No sir, not really,” he said.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior from Corinth, Texas, is driven to turn in a bounce-back season after a rough 2012 campaign in which he was plagued by injuries and missed three games.
“Certainly James has done really well and deserves to be there and is practicing right now as well as he’s ever practiced since he’s been here,” Pinkel said Friday. “It will be fun to see him go through the year injury-free and be able to do the things he’s capable of doing.”
Pinkel reiterated that despite the decision, Franklin’s top competition for the job — redshirt freshman Maty Mauk — has a chance to play a few planned series per game to give him experience.
“We’re without question considering it,” Pinkel said. “We just want to see him to continue to get better.”
Thursday, however, was Franklin’s day. Despite his reticience, he has the well-wishers to prove it, too.
“My phone was blowing up, so I had to (charge it) because it was dying,” Franklin said.
That didn’t change the fact that he clearly couldn’t wait to put it all in his rear-view window, though.
“I’m excited to play some games this year and win some games and see what we can do on offense,” Franklin said. “I’m excited about that.”
Washington hurts heel
Senior receiver L’Damian Washington missed practice Friday because of a bruised heel, but he didn’t suffer the injury during any football-related activity.
“He got a bruise on his heel when he got out of bed,” Pinkel said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one, but he’s a good kid. If it was some other kid I might say ‘Mmm, I don’t know about that.’”
Franklin was surprised when told how Washington got hurt.
“Well, he said something about bruising his heel,” Franklin said. “I said ‘What? What did you do? He said ‘I hurt it.’ It may have been that, he was just afraid to tell me.”
Probably because he knew Franklin, ever the jokester, was going to poke fun at him, something even Pinkel couldn’t help but do, despite the plethora of injuries the Tigers have dealt with the last few years. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel even got hurt recently, as he tore his triceps muscle in his left arm when he was hit on the sideline in Missouri’s first scrimmage.
“If that’s the worse that happens, I’ll be in good shape,” Pinkel said with a chuckle. “We have no further coaches’ injuries (either).”
• Junior running back Greg White and sophomore receiver Wesley Leftwich wore red non-contact jerseys during practice.