After not being selected in this past week’s NFL Draft, former University of Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, according to his agents at Overtime Sports Management Group.
Franks, 23, originally began his collegiate career at the University of Florida after signing with the Gators out of high school in 2015.
While attending Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Fla., Franks was a two-sport athlete, as he played baseball in addition to football.
On the baseball side of things, Franks was fairly effective as a pitcher, reaching 88 mph with his fastball. And while he did not get drafted by a major-league club out of high school on account of not playing his senior year, the interest in baseball still remained.
During his time at Florida, Franks appeared in a total of 28 games over three seasons and enjoyed a great deal of success as a sophomore in 2018, throwing 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions while accounting for more than 2,800 yards of total offense.
In the months leading up to the 2019 football season, Franks received word that the Boston Red Sox were interested in selecting him in the upcoming MLB first-year player draft.
Despite having not thrown a baseball since his junior year of high school, Franks took the Red Sox up on their interest and threw a bullpen session, one in which he reached 94 mph on the radar gun.
Shortly thereafter, the Sox selected Franks in the 31st round of the June draft and signed him for $40,000 the following month, though he ultimately opted to continue his college football career.
Back in March, Franks told The Boston Globe’s Nicole Yang that being drafted by the Red Sox came as a shock.
“It definitely was surprising for me,” he said. “But it was a great experience. Still is.”
The Florida native came into his junior season with high expectations, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in September that would cost him the rest of the year.
Later transferring to Arkansas for his redshirt senior season, Franks led the Razorbacks to a 3-6 record in the nine games he played in 2020, but he did so while completing more than 68% of his passes in addition to accounting for 17 touchdowns and just four turnovers.
On an individual level, the 6-foot-7, 234 pound passer wrapped up his college career on a solid note and was even one of six quarterbacks to participate in this year’s Senior Bowl, yet no NFL team thought he was worthy of spending a draft pick on.
With Atlanta, Franks will join a quarterback room that includes the likes of Boston College alumni Matt Ryan and veteran backup A.J. McCarron.
As he explained to Yang, he is hopeful that his experience on the diamond can help him further develop on the gridiron.
“I think you can just see it with different guys — Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes,” said Franks. “It helps with arm angles. There’s so many different arm angles you throw in football, especially as a quarterback. It’s rare that you’ll just sit there and throw a perfect ball.”
By drafting and signing Franks in 2019, the Red Sox — as noted by SoxProspects.com — “reserve his baseball rights in the event he moves on from football down the line.”
According to Yang, the Sox will retain Franks’ rights through the 2024 season, so the door will remain open for him to pursue a career in baseball if the whole NFL thing does not work out.
Franks is not the only former Florida quarterback the Red Sox have drafted in recent years. Boston also took Jeff Driskel, now of the Denver Broncos, in the 29th round of the 2013 amateur draft.
(Picture of Feleipe Franks: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)