FAYETTEVILLE – Feleipe Franks relished coming home to audition his football skills for NFL scouts at Arkansas’ Pro Day Wednesday at the Walker Indoor Practice facility.
Though a lifelong Floridian and former Florida Gators quarterback, Fayetteville has become another hometown for Franks after the graduate transfer quarterbacked first-year Coach Sam Pittman’s 2020 Razorbacks to a 3-7 SEC season following successive 0-8 SEC seasons in 2018 and 2019 under former Coach Chad Morris and a variety of other quarterbacks.
Deemed a pro prospect while at Florida and enhanced by a Razorbacks record 68 percent completion rate for his lone UA season, Franks and 2020 now turned pro Razorbacks defensive linemen Jonathan Marshall, and Xavier Kelly, running back Rakeem Boyd and defensive back Jerry Jacobs all performed the various Pro Day strength and speed tests monitored by NFL scouts and personnel.
“Fayetteville has treated me so nice,” Franks,who has been working out in California after playing in the Senior Bowl, said. “I don’t know how many people I’ve bragged to about the state of Arkansas. The people in Fayetteville. I’ve been treated tremendously and more than I could ever imagine. Not only the people and sports staff here at Arkansas, the players, media and everybody, it’s been a blessing,.I feel like I owe it back when I come back. It’s awesome in Fayetteville. I have nothing but great things to say.”
Franks said he felt awesome testing in everything except the bench press and proving, which he did throwing a touchdown pass in the Senior Bowl, recovered from a late-season rib injury that had him playing hurt in the season finale against Alabama after missing the previous week’s game at Missouri.
“I feel awesome,” Franks said of his health. “And it feels awesome just coming back here. I thought it went really good.”
Boyd, because of injuries, and via Arkansas State graduate transfer Jacobs because of a “decision I regret 1,000 percent,” opted out of playing during the season, were welcomed back to audition for Pro Day.
“”It just showed me they got a lot of character,” Jacobs said. “I thought the love was going to be lost here. I just appreciate the coaches let me come and perform in front of these scouts, and let me come back on campus at the end of the season like that.”
Boyd, Arkansas’ leading rusher in 2018 and 2019 with a 1,000-yards plus rushing 2019, was Arkansas heralded and voted an offensive co-captain for returning as a 2020 senior when he could have turned pro.
However a lingering injury suffered during the season’s second game hobbled him plus the quarantine setback of his roommate contracting the coronavirus soured his season and prompted him to withdraw and start concentrating on healing and preparing for the NFL draft.
“I decided ‘Hey, let’s go get ready for the pros. Let’s not waste time out here,” Boyd said. “I ended up doing that and talking to Coach. No bad blood, we all still have the same connections that we did from the year before.”
Boyd said he’s now “100 percent” and that he proved it during Wednesday’s testing.
Marshall, the strongest Razorback the past two seasons, said he benched the 225 standard 36 times Wednesday and comes off the by far best season of his 5-year Razorbacks career.
“”Honestly, I think it helped me a lot,” Marshall said. “Just the improvement every year, and this year with all the stuff that I learned, I feel like it’s been really helpful.”
Arkansas legendary as a man of few words even as he was voted a Razorbacks defensive co-captain, Marshall said he’s learning to interview with the scouts.
“It’s actually not bad,” Marshall said. “I’m starting to open up a little bit. I feel like they’re going good for me right now, I’ve just got to keep getting better at it every day.”
A graduate transfer via Clemson, Kelly said his year at Arkansas made him a better pro prospect.
““I definitely got better with my hands,” Kelly said. “It was little things I had to work on, my footwork, they sharpened all those little intangibles that I didn’t have. They definitely sharpened me as an overall player.”
All have retained agents and continue preparing for the spring draft.