Is 4-Star QB Feleipe Franks a Lock to Florida After Decommitting from LSU?

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystNovember 24, 2015

Credit: 247Sports

The LSU Tigers, burdened by swirling speculation around head coach Les Miles, lost a prized prospect Monday night when Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks decommitted.

The 4-star recruit, pledged to LSU since spring 2014, announced his decision on Twitter

"For about a month now I have been talking with LSU about decommitting," he wrote. "I have given this process a lot of thought and feel that [it's] only best for me to make my decommitment public."

Franks, a 6'5", 220-pound passer from Wakulla High School, was an early foundational member of a 2016 Tigers class rated No. 1 nationally in composite rankings before his departure. He joined the class just months after a sophomore season that featured 1,842 passing yards and 19 total touchdowns. 

Rated No. 5 among pro-style quarterbacks in composite rankings, Franks held scholarship offers from Florida State, Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama, Georgia and Clemson before his junior campaign. He provided positive momentum for LSU's class throughout a 17-month commitment, exciting other Tigers recruits. 

"It definitely gives you an edge to have a high-profile quarterback, and in my opinion we have one with Feleipe Franks," defensive tackle Caleb Roddy told Bleacher Report in July. "He's fantastic, and he has a rocket arm. Hopefully he can take the offense to another level when it's his time to step up at LSU. I truly believe he can be one of the best in the country."

Franks, a national Elite 11 finalist, leads Wakulla into the third round of state playoffs this weekend. He's thrown for 2,125 yards, 28 touchdowns and two interceptions through 12 games, according to MaxPreps.

A four-year varsity standout, Franks has tallied 7,387 total yards and 87 scores in high school. His large frame and impressive athleticism make him a rushing threat in short-yardage situations, resulting in three touchdowns on the ground this fall.

Franks' decommitment leaves LSU searching for a replacement with 10 weeks remaining in the recruiting cycle. It's a final stretch that could certainly include more drama in Baton Rouge as the fate of a star-studded coaching staff is determined.

Meanwhile, this development opens the door for alternative college programs to enter the equation. Focus immediately shifts to Gainesville, where the Florida Gators are set to host Franks for a third consecutive home game. 

He is expected to attend the Gators' annual rivalry showdown with Florida State on Saturday. Florida, 10-1 under first-year head coach Jim McElwain, will end a six-season absence from the SEC title game in December. 

An offense that predominately sputtered during recent years has rebounded well this fall. The passing game, in particular, continues to show signs of improvement.

The Gators rate 66th nationally in passing yards per game (222.3) after finishing 106th in that category last year. Redshirt freshman Will Grier and sophomore Treon Harris have combined to throw for 2,435 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions through 11 games. 

Florida features an emerging crop of young offensive playmakers. Freshman wide receiver Antonio Callaway leads the Gators in receiving yards and touchdowns, while 4-star pass-catchers Freddie Swain and Joshua Hammond are among key additions in the 2016 class. 

Franks would fill the Gators' most glaring void of this cycle.

Florida failed to sign a quarterback in 2015 despite a late run at current Seminoles freshman Deondre Francois. The Gators then saw Grier, perceived offensive leader of the present and future, suspended until next October.

Florida quarterback commit Kyle Trask, a 3-star prospect from Manvel High School in Texas, didn't hold a single Power Five offer when the Gators extended one in late July. Houston Baptist and McNeese State were among the only collegiate options for Trask, who rates 90th nationally among pro-style quarterbacks.

In contrast, Franks has spent almost his entire high school career in the spotlight. It's shining brighter than ever as he returns to The Swamp, a place many pundits now expect him to call home. 

Florida head coach Jim McElwain is enjoying a terrific start on and off the field.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain is enjoying a terrific start on and off the field.Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Florida claims 81 percent of experts' predictions in Franks' 247Sports Crystal Ball, including the past 17 projections. It remains to be seen whether Franks will aim to schedule a series of official visits before announcing a final choice, but the Gators are clearly in the driver's seat at this stage.

The Gators continue to capitalize on a bounce-back campaign, carrying 23 commitments in a 2016 recruiting class that recently cracked Top 10 composite rankings. Adding Franks to the mix would immediately enhance ongoing efforts to land fellow elite in-state targets like Binjimen VictorNate Craig-Myers and Wakulla teammate Keith Gavin.

Expect McElwain's staff to treat him like one of their own pledges this weekend while he's on campus. Officially free of his "LSU-bound" label, Franks suddenly seems primed to join Florida's burgeoning offensive attack.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.