BOCA RATON – FAU quarterbacks consistently returned to one word when describing their newest target, Auburn transfer John Franklin.
“He’s definitely fast,” Daniel Parr said. “He’s got good hands, too. I’m excited to have him.”
Franklin, who practiced for the first time with FAU on Friday, said he ran a 4.25 laser-timed 40-yard dash at Auburn in the spring, making him one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player ever at FAU.
After beginning his career as a quarterback at Florida St., Franklin switched to wide receiver during the spring at Auburn after losing the Tigers’ quarterback battle.
Despite FAU being unsettled at the quarterback position, Franklin won’t be joining the fray.
“We brought him here to play receiver,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said. “We feel good about our quarterbacks.”
That suits Franklin just fine.
“Actually, I enjoy playing receiver,” Franklin said. “It gives me more opportunities to make plays, more chances to get on the field. Once I made that switch I actually enjoyed it.”
Franklin, who played high school football at South Plantation, ultimately left Auburn looking for a better opportunity to showcase his development at wide receiver.
“I need to be on the field,” Franklin said. “This is my last shot to pursue my dream and I have to be on the field every play, not just some plays. Coach Kiffin presented an opportunity to me. It was just the perfect situation because I get to be back home, be with my family and just have fun.”
The fun factor played a role in his decision to leave Auburn.
“I wasn’t really having too much fun,” Franklin said.
Franklin briefly considered other schools but FAU was the first to call. He made up his mind to become an Owl immediately, but wouldn’t have selected FAU if not for the presence of Kiffin.
“Probably not, to be honest,” Johnson said. “His track record, that’s one of the biggest things.”
As a graduate student transfer, Franklin is eligible to play immediately.
On Friday, FAU’s last official day of fall camp, FAU gave Franklin repetitions with the first and second teams, with coaches telling him the route to run before his plays.
Franklin threw for 204 yards, rushed for 430 yards and caught one pass for minus three yards last season at Auburn.
It was those rushes, the way Franklin moved in open space, that convinced Kiffin that Franklin was a weapon FAU needed.
“He’s a big kid that can really run and makes plays,” Kiffin said.
Quarterback De’Andre Johnson already knew that. Johnson and Franklin were briefly teammates at FSU and then at East Mississippi CC, where Johnson starred in the first season of the Netflix docu-series Last Chance U.
“To have John here brings a lot of excitement to the program, a lot of talk in the locker room,” Johnson said. “He’s going to be a great teammate.”
On the field Johnson described Franklin as being “very explosive.”
The Owls have lacked explosive plays this fall. Franklin intends to change that.
“Once the ball is in my hands it’s a chance to score a touchdown every play,” Franklin said. “That’s my goal. I’m not really into the whole 10-play drive thing. I’m just trying to get to the end zone as fast as possible and get to the sideline.”