Doak Walker finalist and a top NCAA rusher in 2012, Johnathan Franklin has made a name for himself beyond UCLA. Franklin has three 200+ yard games in his career and is the all-time leading rusher in UCLA history, as well as the most all-purpose yards in a season for UCLA.
Once more, we seek knowledge on Franklin from Greg Burcham of Bruins Nation, a UCLA centered community on the SB Nation network. Greg was kind enough to share his insight with us at State of the Texans.
Tale of the Tape
Weight: 195 lbs.
What is the background on how Franklin chose UCLA? What did he mean to the program?
Franklin was an under the radar player initially in HS as he was limited his junior year with an injury. UCLA was recruiting more second tier athletes, as Karl Dorrell’s staff essentially conceded many top recruits to USC in those days. They offered Franklin early based on potential. Luckily, the Bruins got in first and Franklin blossomed as a senior. He had other Pac-10 offers, but Franklin is a very loyal, good character kid, and he rewarded UCLA for their faith in him. He became the Bruins greatest RB, he was the team leader in their turnaround season this year, and he visited kids at the children’s hospital every week on his own just because he liked doing it. He has said repeatedly that his goal is to be Mayor of Los Angeles to better help the inner cities in LA.
Is Franklin more of a 3rd down, every down, change-of-pace or receiving back?
Franklin is an every down back. He is pretty compact and strong, and ran very effectively between the tackles this year. He runs downhill through the line, but is very shifty in the open field and he has breakaway speed once he gets to the second level. He is a solid receiver, and he showed good pass blocking skills during the season and at the Senior Bowl. I see him as a Ray Rice sort of back.
Franklin was 2nd team all Pac-12 and UCLA team MVP his senior year. How will he translate to the NFL?
Franklin improved steadily every season at UCLA, and ended up as the school’s all time career rusher, ahead of names like Maurice Jones Drew, Wendell Tyler, & DeShaun Foster. And he did this while playing in some pretty bad offenses with zero passing games and patchwork offensive lines. He is an outstanding character kid and has a great work ethic. He can fill pretty much any role for a running back.
How are Franklin’s pass protection and blocking skills?
Very solid. He got a lot of practice picking up blitzes and helping the OL during his career at UCLA. Though I didn’t see the Senior Bowl practices, CBSSports.com noted he outperformed his RB teammates on the Senior Bowl North team.
Franklin had some ball security issues in 2011. Was this better in 2012 and will it be a problem at the next level?
Fumbles were a big problem as a junior. He fixed it as a senior. I remember just one, on a frigid damp night in Pulllman Washington. It’s another example of how hard Franklin works to know his flaws and improve his game.
What are Franklin’s strength and weaknesses on the field?
Biggest strengths – leadership, reliability, versatility, good speed and shifty.
Biggest weaknesses – a bit underweight now, not as much of a power back as bigger runners, decent receiver