Florida Gators name starting quarterback vs. Michigan Wolverines

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks warms up during the first half of a game against North Texas in Gainesville, Fla., on Sept. 17. Franks was named the Gators’ starter for their Saturday game against Michigan on Wednesday. (AP photo)

By MARK LONG

AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feleipe Franks will make his first career start on a big stage on Saturday.

No. 17 Florida named Franks its starting quarterback Wednesday, ending a monthlong competition that also included incumbent Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire.

Franks, a redshirt freshman from a small town south of Tallahassee, will debut against 11th-ranked Michigan in Arlington, Texas, and in front of about 100,000 fans.

“That kind of shows what you’re made of,” coach Jim McElwain said. “I think the big thing in that, he’s going to be excited, there’s no doubt about it. But in that big stage, the guy’s got a big arm, too. You know what, he’s been in those. He’s played in state championship games. He’ll be ready to go.”

Franks ended spring practice as the clear-cut starter, but McElwain opened the competition once Del Rio and Zaire joined the mix. Del Rio, the son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, started six games last season before injuring his shoulder in November. He had offseason surgery and missed the entire spring. Zaire enrolled at Florida in June and still could see playing time in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Franks, though, will get the first snap.

“I think the big thing is the whole body of work from spring on,” McElwain said. “Him being there, being a part of that, I think he was a little bit ahead. And you know what, he deserves it.”