James Franklin named Missouri's starting quarterback

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

James Franklin was named Missouri's starting quarterback on Thursday night. (USATSI)
James Franklin's 2012 season was derailed by injuries. (USATSI)

Missouri's quarterback competition has wrapped, and as many expected it will be senior James Franklin starting under center when the Tigers open the season against Murray State on Aug. 31.

Franklin beat out redshirt freshman Maty Mauk for the job. The senior was plagued by injuries in 2012, but his prior experience as a starter led many to believe he would ultimately win the job. Franklin started camp at the top of the depth chart, but Tigers coach Gary Pinkel insisted the job was still up for grabs until Thursday night.

"James has shown that he's very capable of leading this team at a high level, and we fully expect him to do that," Pinkel said Thursday night. "He's really developed as a leader of this offense, and of this team, and we feel he's ready to be the difference-maker he was before all of the health challenges he dealt with last season."

Franklin threw for 2,872 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011, his first season as the starter after the departure of Blaine Gabbert. Last season Franklin struggled to put together more than three-or-four games consecutive games without either getting hurt. He finished the year with 1,562 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Pinkel suggested that the coaching staff may give Mauk planned series in games for experience. Mauk was a four-star prospect (according to 247Sports Composite Rankings) coming out of Kenton, Ohio, and the staff wants to make sure they have a plan in case Franklin is injured again. Sophomore Corbin Berkstresser, Franklin's backup in 2012, was also in the competition, but he fell behind the other two quarterbacks as the competition came to a close.

Missouri is looking for a bounce back year in 2013 after missing the postseason for the first time since 2004. The Tigers' struggles in their first year of SEC play was particularly noticeable when compared to Texas A&M, their realignment traveling partner from the Big 12. It did not help that Missouri drew Alabama as their first rotating crossover opponent, but the offensive struggles were a much bigger concern for Tigers fans than the schedule. With Franklin, running back Henry Josey and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, fans are hoping for good health and some improved play from that side of the ball.

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