James Franklin, Jarvis Jones

James Franklin refused painkillers for dealing with shoulder injury


Confirming what had been rumored the day before, Missouri quarterback James Franklin did not take the field Saturday night against Arizona State because of lingering soreness in his shoulder. Franklin missed practically the entire offseason recovering from shoulder surgery and re-aggravated the injury in Week 2’s loss to Georgia.

According to Tigers coach Gary Pinkel, the decision to not take the field against the Sun Devils was Franklin’s choice, not one made by the coaches or training staff. Why? Because Franklin refused to take an injection with painkillers.

That’s not the part of the story generating buzz. Franklin, according to his father, has never taken any sort of medication. In fact, the Franklin family is a drug-free one. “He’s never even taken an aspirin once in his life,” Willie Franklin told the St. Louis Post-Disptach. “In our family, we don’t believe in taking medication (for pain) or trying to soften anything with any drugs.”

It’s how Pinkel phrased Franklin’s reasoning that gained the most attention.

It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play,” Pinkel said after a 24-20 win over ASU before clarifying later, “He said, ‘It hurts too much. I can’t play.’ ”

So, Franklin didn’t want to play or couldn’t play?

That’s been the debate, the center of which included questioning Franklin’s toughness. But, here’s the thing: never mind what Pinkel’s intent was or how the comments were perceived. No one plays at this level — no one plays football in general — without being tough. If a player isn’t tough enough mentally or physically to survive the next level, they fizzle out quickly.

Franklin is a junior and has a full year under his belt as the starting quarterback for the Tigers. As a dual-threat, he ran 217 times in 13 games last season, an average of between 16 and 17 times a game. That’s toughness, and if he doesn’t believe in taking a cortisone injection, then that’s his prerogative because it’s his body. If he loses his starting job — Franklin is still listed as Mizzou’s starter — or gets labeled as “soft” because of it, then so be it. Franklin has priorities and playing without the assistance of painkillers, which can be addictive, is clearly important to him.

The traditional belief about toughness in football is that everyone plays hurt, and when a coach says a player is “100 percent”, he really means they’re about 80 to 90 percent with the help of a cortisone shot. Franklin’s going another route, but that shouldn’t translate into meaning he somehow is lacking toughness.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah