By Tyler Martin
Special to The Tuscaloosa News

HOOVER — First-year head coach Dan Mullen was able to bring the Florida Gators back to relevancy in the college football world in 2018. A 10-win season. A blowout win in the Peach Bowl over Michigan. These victories were thanks in large part thanks to Mullen’s development of his quarterback, Feleipe Franks.

Mullen is known as a quarterback guru. He has coached and helped develop players like Alex Smith, Chirs Leak, Heisman-winner Tim Tebow, and Dak Prescott.

Franks has spent one year in Mullen’s system and after last season his numbers drastically improved. His passing yards went from 1,438 yards in 2017 to 2,457 in 2018. The touchdowns went up from nine to 24. And more importantly, the interceptions went down from eight to six.

“Coach Mullen has done a great job coaching me on the field and off the field he is making me a better overall man,” Franks said Monday at SEC Media Days. “He has taught me how to be a winner.

“Him and our quarterbacks coach, Brian Johnson, have taught me how to balance football and my other priorities in life. They have shown me how to be a better leader in the locker room.”

After taking a huge step forward in 2018, Mullen still thinks Franks has a lot of potential and areas he can grow his game.

“Once he was able to block out the noise and, really look at his skill set, what he does well, he was able to improve his play and build his confidence,” Mullen said. “I thought he took even more strides this spring as he is doing a better job of understanding how he fits in our offensive system. He has come a long way and will continue to grow.”

In 2018, Franks was the first Florida quarterback to start every game in a season since John Brantley in 2010. His experience and leadership will be crucial for the Gators in 2019.

“He is a great guy for our team,” Florida running back Lamichal Perine said. “I have seen him mature so much over the last three years as a player and student. He is a good vocal leader that is teaching others different parts of the game.”

Florida will open up its 2019 campaign against Miami on Aug. 24 in Orlando.