COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is going with senior James Franklin to start at quarterback for the Tigers.
Pinkel said Franklin, who was dogged by injuries last season, beat out redshirt freshman Maty Mauk for the job. He felt it was important to make an announcement well ahead of the Aug. 31 opener against Murray State.
"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 in a release. "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."
Pinkel added the coaching staff is considering giving Mauk planned series in games to give him experience. Sophomore Corbin Berkstresser started four games last year when Franklin was sidelined and also had been in the competition.
Three former Missouri quarterbacks are in the NFL. Franklin is among those who got regular work as the backup, seeing limited playing time in 2010 behind Blaine Gabbert, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Future Heisman Trophy finalist and New Orleans Saints backup Chase Daniel got his feet wet backing up Brad Smith, a longtime wide receiver in the NFL.
"We have a history with that, and it's something that has worked very well for us," Pinkel said.
Franklin opened fall workouts atop the depth chart and was named one of four captains on the first day of practice. Pinkel emphasized repeatedly at that point that the honor did not guarantee the starting job.
Injuries to Franklin were among the disappointments last year as Missouri went 5-7, ending a string of eight consecutive bowl appearances.
Franklin had 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions last season, and rushed for 116 yards and two scores. In 2011, he had 21 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions, and rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns.