Missouri’s loss in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament was the worst news in Tigers sports in quite a few months, but not for long.
The University of Missouri’s athletic department website announced quarterback James Franklin will miss Missouri’s remaining spring practices and undergo surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder.
Franklin injured his throwing shoulder recovering a fumble in practice last week and the Tigers’ athletic department announced today he had decided to undergo shoulder surgery.
“We’re disappointed for James naturally,” MU football coach Gary Pinkel said in a statement. “But this is absolutely the right thing to do, and we all know he’ll be in great hands, as we have the best doctors and trainers in the nation. James has an outstanding work ethic, and he’ll be able to get past this setback just fine. We expect him to be 100 percent and ready to go for the season. Until then, our younger guys will benefit from more reps and more work with the number one offense, and we’ll look at that as a positive.”
With backup quarterbacks Corbin Berkstresser and Ashton Glaser nowhere near ready to start for the Tigers, Franklin is still the key to the offense. His vision of the field on zone-read plays is a large part of why the running game improved so much when Blaine Gabbert went to the NFL, and he improved the Tigers’ downfield passing game tremendously.
As the Tigers move to the SEC, Franklin will be a huge factor in the team’s competitiveness. Shoulder surgeries are a tricky matter. Franklin’s shoulder could be good as new by July, or he could never regain full velocity in his throws. If the former is true, the Tigers have a fighting chance at making the uphill battle to winning the weaker division of the SEC in their first year in the conference. If the latter is true, the Tigers will have a fighting chance of winning three or four games in the conference.
First impressions last the longest, and Missouri’s first season in the SEC will make a huge impression on thousands of high school recruits in SEC country. Will their impression of Tiger football be a surprise newcomer contending for a division title, or a new doormat for the division? The answer to that question will impact Missouri’s recruiting and ability to win for years to come.