Big 12 Media Days: Pinkel Likes His New QB

It is all about the quarterback with Missouri. The Tigers go from first-round NFL Draft pick Blaine Gabbert to dual threat quarterback James Franklin, a product of Lake Dallas High School. Franklin won the job in the spring and even foreced the transfer of Gabbert's little brother out of Mizzou. Pinkel had a lot to say Monday about his new quarterback.

"James was the backup last year behind Blaine Gabbert, and we had a chance to get some playing time. And I think that's really a plus for us, number one," Pinkel started.

"James, he's a really good athlete, about 6-3, 225. People ask me to compare him to Brad Smith. Brad Smith is a leaner-type athlete and probably an extreme athlete. When you look at James, James has got great movement. I think he can extend the play. I think he can also do damage with his feet, not only in the passing game but the running game. We really haven't had that since we had Brad Smith.

"I don't like to compare players because it's not fair, but personality-wise James and Brad Smith are a lot alike," continued Pinkel. "They're not rah-rah guys, especially being young players. The greatest leadership that you can do as a player is to play well. That's the first thing, most important thing: You gotta play well.

"And, secondly, you mature as a young quarterback in your leadership. And I think he's doing fine there. I think he's working hard at that. But the most important thing he can do is play well. And I think the team's embraced him, and I think the thing with James, you have to understand, too, is we have nine returning starters around him than a year ago.

"That's the most experienced players I've ever had around a new quarterback since I've been a head football coach. And I think that lends itself well. So my suggestion would be can those nine players play at a higher level than they've ever played before?

"Franklin throws the ball well. He's got a good touch. He's got a lot going for him. And I'm excited for him. We all know transition of quarterback as we've done with Brad Smith or we've done with Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert, transition is something you have to deal with. We have a plan in place about how we do it, and hopefully it will go well."

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