Feleipe Franks hadn’t played baseball in nearly five years when he got a phone call from a member of the Red Sox organization.
Franks, a junior quarterback at Florida at the time, learned that the Red Sox were interested in selecting him in the 2019 major league draft. So, later that spring, after wrapping up his football responsibilities for the day, Franks threw a bullpen session — the first time he had taken the mound since quitting baseball his junior year of high school.
Despite his time away from the sport, Franks still clocked 94 m.p.h. on the radar gun.
Sure enough, about two weeks following the workout, the Red Sox drafted him in the 31st round with the 947th overall pick.
“It definitely was surprising for me,” Franks recalled Wednesday afternoon. “But it was a great experience. Still is.”
Now, Franks is preparing for another draft, this time hoping to make it in the NFL.
“It’s always been my dream to play in the NFL, to go be a starting quarterback, to go win championships,” he said.
Another season at the college level could have been beneficial for Franks, who decided in December to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. His decision-making and game management have been flagged as areas in need of improvement, while his strong arm certainly ups the intrigue surrounding his potential.
He’s hoping his baseball experience can continue to help him out, too.
“I think you can just see it with different guys — Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes,” Franks said. “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.”
This past year was somewhat of a bounce-back for Franks. After suffering a season-ending ankle injury early in his junior year at Florida — and losing the starting role to fellow draft prospect Kyle Trask — he decided to transfer to Arkansas as a redshirt senior.
At Arkansas last season, Franks threw for 2,107 yards and 17 touchdowns, and set a school record in completion percentage (68.5). Despite the team’s 3-7 record, Franks noted that his time as a Razorback helped him grow as a leader.
“It made me who I am today,” said Franks, who was one of four team captains.
Since the season ended, Franks has been spending most of his time speed training and working with quarterback coach Steve Calhoun in Orange County. He identified footwork as one of his main points of emphasis, saying he’s trying to sharpen his timing with receivers.
Franks also earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Mississippi tight end Kenny Yeboah and helped lift the National team to a 27-24 victory. He finished the game with 122 yards, completing 9 of his 16 passes.
As of now, Franks is projected to be a late-round pick. If he were to be drafted by the Patriots, whom he said he met with at the Senior Bowl, Franks would not be ready to immediately take over as the starter. He’s hopeful, though, that he could earn that role — in New England or elsewhere.
Should things not work out in football, however, the door seems open for Franks to pursue a career in baseball.
The Red Sox signed him for $40,000 and will retain his rights through the 2024 season. Franks has made it clear his current focus is exclusively on football, but he expressed interest in possibly exploring that option down the road.
“I’m grateful for Boston,” he said.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.