Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
94. James Franklin, No. 1, Missouri, Quarterback
When Blaine Gabbert left Mizzou, folks wondered what would become of the offense as the little known commodity of James Franklin at quarterback took over. What the Tigers got was a guy who was a true weapon at the quarterback position. While Franklin would end up a couple hundred yards behind Gabbert's 2010 total, he would out-produce the NFL draft pick in touchdowns.
Franklin also brings an added facet to the offense: the run. Franklin is a truly dynamic athlete at the quarterback position and watching him play is a treat. He's a solid passer that makes good decisions, as shown in his 21:11 touchdown to interception ratio. He is also a more than adequate running threat at the quarterback position. He is shifty, has great top end speed and, something that is always great out of a dual threat, Franklin is a strong kid who can take a hit.
The Missouri Tigers are moving over to the SEC and that means it will be tough sledding for the Mizzou offense. While Franklin does not have many true weaknesses, the issue will be adjusting to a schedule that includes Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida; all teams that finished higher defensively than any team the Tigers played a season ago. Throw in the absence of Henry Josey at the running back spot (he's still recovering from the devastating knee injury he suffered in 2011), and it is not going to be an easy road for Franklin and Mizzou.
In 2012, Franklin walks in as one of the top three quarterbacks in the SEC East and among the top guys in the SEC overall. That's a plus for him and he'll have to prove his worth early in Week 2 when the Tigers take on the Georgia Bulldogs.
While making his way on to the All-SEC team will be tough with Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray pushing for the position, he can most certainly make his mark by stealing some wins in the conference. Franklin has an opportunity to truly impress the conference and the country with some quality play against solid defenses.
While most folks wonder how Mizzou will handle the SEC, a lot of SEC defensive coordinators will be trying to figure out how to handle Franklin.