Jacksonville Sports Day

UF NOTES: Franks on Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List

Photo by Kelsi Bevington

BALTIMORE, M.D. – The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award along with presenting sponsor A. O. Smith Corporation announced the candidates for the 2019 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list on Monday, as Florida redshirt junior QB Feleipe Franks was named among the group.

The award is presented annually to the top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback set to graduate with their class by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.

Franks played in and started all 13 games at quarterback in 2018, throwing for 2,457 yards with 24 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season.

He totaled 350 rushing yards on 110 carries and a team-high tying seven rushing touchdown, while leading the Gators to a 10-3 record and No. 6 final ranking in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Franks became the first Gators quarterback since John Brantley in 2010 to start every game throughout the entire season. He also finished the season with 31 touchdowns accounted for, tied with Chris Leak’s 2004 season for the seventh-highest single-season total in school history.

His seven rushing touchdowns left him one shy of tying Tim Tebow (2006) and Jimmy Fisher (1979) for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns by a Gators quarterback in a single season.

Six Gators Named to Preseason Coaches’ All-SEC Football Team

When the Southeastern Conference announced the 2019 Preseason Coaches’ All-SEC Football Team Florida defensive back CJ Henderson was named First Team Preseason All-SEC while five other Gators received second team recognition. Nine schools had at least one First Team All-SEC representative, including a conference-best nine from Alabama.

Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.

Alabama placed a league-leading 16 representatives on the 2019 Preseason Coaches’ All-SEC Football Team. Georgia was second with 10 representatives, while Auburn and LSU each had nine.

Henderson was the lone first team selection for the Gators, while running back Lamical Perine, defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga, linebacker David Reese II, punter Tommy Townsend, and kicker Evan McPherson were all named to the second team.

Henderson appeared in and started all 13 games throughout the season for the Gators, regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the entire country after totaling 38 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, three sacks, and two interceptions. The Miami, Fla. native also tallied a team-high seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles en route to garnering Coaches All-SEC Second Team accolades following the season.

Perine appeared in all 13 contests and recorded one start last season, leading the team with 134 carries, 826 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He additionally caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown, as he ranked first on the Gators in total yards (996) and second in scoring (48). Perine, a native of Mobile, Ala., was one of three players (Jordan Scarlett, Feleipe Franks) who scored at least five rushing touchdowns in 2018, marking the first time Florida has accomplished the feat since 2010.

Zuniga appeared in and started all 13 games a season ago for the Gators as he totaled 45 total tackles, 11.0 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. The Marietta, Ga. native earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors last fall following Florida’s win vs. Colorado State after he posted a career-best 2.5 sacks, five tackles and a QB hurry.

Reese II, despite missing the first three games of the season due to an ankle injury he sustained during fall camp, finished second on the team in tackles (77) and also recorded 2.5 tackles-for-loss and one fumble recovery in 2018. The senior linebacker led the Gators with 11 tackles in their win over LSU and was named to the Bednarik Award & Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists during the season for his efforts.

Townsend finished the 2018 season averaging 45.4 yards per punt, as he totaled 2,315 yards on 51 punts. The Orlando, Fla. native booted 14 punts of over 50 yards and registered 24 punts inside of the 20-yard line. Against LSU, he recorded a career-long 71-yard punt, which was the seventh-longest punt in Florida football history. The redshirt senior also recorded an 18-yard gain on a fake punt in Florida’s comeback win over Vanderbilt en route to being named Second Team All-SEC by Athlon Sports and being a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award. Townsend was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

McPherson went 17-for-19 (89.5%) on field goals and ranked tied for sixth nationally and led all freshmen in field goal percentage in 2018. Among kickers with at least 15 attempts, he ranked tied for fifth nationally and went a perfect 3-for-4 on kicks 40 yards or longer and a perfect 11-for-11 on kicks between 20 and 29 yards. McPherson was the Gators’ primary kickoff specialist, netting 64.1 yards per kickoff and had a touchback percentage of 55%, while leading the Gators in scoring with 101 points. One of the 20 Lou Groza Award semifinalists, the Fort Payne, Ala. native was also named a True Freshman All-American by 247Sports.

The SEC begins its 2019 season Saturday when Florida takes on Miami at 7 p.m. ET in Orlando.

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