The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 23, 2012

Missouri QB James Franklin anxious to start throwing

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— Injured Missouri quarterback James Franklin said he’s anxious to return to football Friday afternoon as he took a break from working on a new house in south-central Joplin.

Franklin, who underwent surgery in March to repair his right shoulder, was in Joplin as part of the Governor’s Joplin Challenge along with other volunteers from the Mizzou athletic department.

Franklin’s shoulder was injured during spring practice when a defender landed on his throwing arm.

“I only got to practice twice,” said Franklin, who passed for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns in his first season as a starter last fall. “I’ve been throwing a Nerf ball, then toward the middle to the end of July I’ll be throwing a football.”

Franklin, who rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, was the only Mizzou football player Friday among the volunteers who are building five houses, but more help in on the way, he said.

“Next week, we should have a lot more,” he said. “A lot of the football guys will be here next Friday. This Friday and next Friday are the only opportunities we have to come down.”

He was assigned to a crew along with volunteers from Habitat for Humanity that is building a house at 2619 Virginia Ave. Another Mizzou home is just underway next door, at 2615 Virginia Ave.

Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior from Corinth, Texas, said he plans to be ready when preseason practice begins this summer.

“We start two-a-days on the first of August,” he said. “I’m ready for it to come. But I’m still trying to enjoy summer at the same time.”

He worked alongside Ryan Allen, who pitched for three years at Missouri and graduated in May 2011, just before an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin on May 22.

“We used to stop in Joplin all the time and eat at Olive Garden,” said Allen, a graduate assistant at Mizzou who pitched in high school at Stillwater, Okla. “I’ve played some baseball games here. I have some friends here, and a few of them were affected by it.

“We represent the entire state,” he said. “We wanted to come down and let people know we love them and we want them to smile.”