From The Cheap Seats: Another Last Chance

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Last Chance U, It even sounds foreboding or it certainly sounds like a place you don’t want to find yourself. That is exactly where John Franklin III wound up, square in the middle of the Netflix Series that highlights college athletes struggling with troubled lives. Now it’s time for another last chance for Franklin.

Early Success

It wasn’t always this way. After starring at South Plantation High School redshirted the 2013 season with the National Champion Florida State Seminoles. He was also a member of the ACC Champion 4 x 100 relay team at FSU.

Franklin then transferred to East Mississippi Community College after the 2014 season. He served as a backup at the Community College. Gone were the days of frenzied crowds of over 70,000 at Doak Campbell  Stadium. Now EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field held a maximum crowd of 5,000, but actually was less than half full on an average game day. 

This is the end of the story for almost every athlete. ALMOST. Franklin is not just any athlete.

Stepping On The Field

He was finally given the opportunity to step on the field, and this player made the most of it. He scored SIX rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown against Mississippi Delta. It wasn’t even a complete game as the game was suspended early due to a brawl on the field. That game was documented on the Netflix Series. He went on to complete 58.2% of his passes that year with a 7-2 interception to TD ratio. He added 451 yards on the ground with an eye-opening 10.5 yards per rush average.

Franklin used his time at what he called “rock bottom” at EMCC to mature and grow as a football player, but more importantly as a man. Soon the phone rang and Franklin found himself at Auburn University. He appeared in 12 games in his junior year, starting one of those games. This was tougher competition though. Surely his numbers must have dropped dramatically, right? In his 12 games he went 12-46 (53.8%) while throwing for 204 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 430 yards on only 46 carries for an explosive 9.3 yards per carry.

When asked to perform well he always did, but his phenomenal athleticism meant that he did not fit the quarterback stereo-type.

On The Move

On March 8, 2017 Franklin announced that he would be moving on to play for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic. There he ran into the same situation. He was primarily used on gadget plays. He had 16 rushes for 229 yards. That’s a 14.3 yard per carry average, adding two touchdowns. That isn’t even close to all of his production that year. He also CAUGHT 7 balls for 95 yards and a TD, averaging 13.6 yards per catch.

After all of this production he went undrafted because he did not fit any particular position. Instead he had performed well at ALL of the positions he had been placed in.

Back In Florida

He first tried to catch on with the Chicago Bears, where he landed on the practice squad as a cornerback. Now he is a Buc and is learning the offense under coach Arians.

“He’s one of those guys who has so much talent and athletic ability, you are trying to find a place for him,” said Arians via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We ran a little wildcat package with him, and he did a great job with it.” The Bucs have also started using him as a wide-receiver in different formations. “He could give us a third quarterback on Sunday with his ability, so he’s got a lot of options, and it’s up to him to make the ball club as a wideout.”

Another Last Chance

They called it Last Chance U, but it wasn’t the last chance for this athlete. It’s time for another last chance for Franklin. He looks like he has earned another opportunity, and it would be fun to see what he could do on the field. It’s hard to root against someone that has paid their dues and few people like Franklin. At least that is how it looks from up here in The Cheap Seats.

 

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