Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is now a professional athlete. He’s not getting paid by a football team, however.
The Boston Red Sox, who drafted Franks with the 947th pick in the 31st round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, agreed to terms with Florida’s signal caller on Friday.
The deal, which included a $40,000 signing bonus, will not be enough to pull Franks from the Gators football team. He is expected to remain at Florida and play out his eligibility as UF’s quarterback.
While drafting a football player who hasn’t played baseball in years may seem outlandish, this is not the first time Boston has drafted a Florida quarterback. The Red Sox selected former UF quarterback Jeff Driskel with the 863rd pick in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
Driskel never played an inning for any Boston affiliate, but, like Franks, he took advantage of a contract signing bonus.
Interestingly enough, Franks hasn’t ruled out playing for the Red Sox in the future.
“My main focus is football [in] college, then hopefully a career in the NFL,” Franks said at SEC Media Days. “Then (baseball) is kind of like a backup plan, backup job.”
While he is focused on football now, his baseball future may be dependent on how he develops as a quarterback.
Franks had a rough rookie year, but he improved drastically during his sophomore season. In 2017, he registered nine touchdowns and eight interceptions with just 1,438 yards passing. Last season, he jumped to 24 touchdowns against just six picks, along with 2,457 yards through the air.
His 2017 passer rating improved from 113.3 to 143.3 in 2018.
If the trend of improvement continues, it’s possible Franks is drafted by an NFL team down the road. If he plateaus or declines, however, then it’s possible Franks picks up a fielder’s glove.
Franks hasn’t pitched since his junior year of high school, but he can still toss pro-level heat. He was able to register 94 miles per hour on the radar gun after he was drafted.
If Franks eventually makes the switch from football to baseball, he wouldn’t be a Gators trailblazer for quarterbacks who went back to the diamond.
Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is now a member of the New York Mets triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets.
The 31-year-old outfielder switched to baseball after a short stint in the National Football League. Like Franks, Tebow hadn’t played baseball since high school.
Even with all of these factors to consider, Franks is focused on being the Gators’ starting quarterback.
Florida is coming off of a 10-3 season and a 41-15 drubbing of Michigan in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl under coach Dan Mullen. Both Franks and the Gators are looking to make another leap and compete for a national championship.
Baseball will have to wait.
Follow Dylan O'Shea on Twitter @dylanoshea24 and contact him at [email protected].