Franklin will attend his second NFL rookie camp in as many weeks this weekend – a tryout with the Chicago Bears, who will be looking at him primarily as a cornerback and special teams performer.
“They want to see me at DB because they already know what I can do on offense,” Franklin said.
Franklin began his college football career as a quarterback at Florida St. before transferring to East Mississippi Community College, where he starred on the Netflix docu-series “Last Chance U.” He then transferred to Auburn where, after losing a quarterback battle, he moved to wide receiver. Franklin transferred to FAU as a graduate student during 2017’s fall camp.
During his lone season at FAU, the former quarterback caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball 16 times for 242 yards and two scores, ending the season as FAU’s de facto back-up quarterback as well as receiver.
Franklin’s biggest asset is his speed. He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash during pro day (some clocked him in the high 4.3s).
Seattle brought Franklin to its camp last weekend and also tried him at defensive back.
“I learned how to play defense,” Franklin said. “That’s the first time I was ever in a defensive meeting room in my life.”
Franklin estimates that seven teams inquired about him attending their camp for a tryout. He chose Chicago this weekend over Jacksonville, which wanted him as a wide receiver, the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland, among others.
“However I can get my foot in,” Franklin said. “I’m athletic enough to do so.”
Franklin is one of six former FAU Owls who will participate in NFL rookie minicamps this weekend.
For three of them, it will be their second consecutive week of NFL tryouts.
Guard Jakobi Smith joined Franklin in Seattle last weekend. This weekend Smith departs for Cincinnati.
After failing to catch on in Kansas City, wide receiver Kalib Woods will try to impress Jacksonville. He’ll be doing so alongside a familiar face. Fellow Owl wide receiver Kamrin Solomon also has a tryout with the Jaguars.
Closer to Boca Raton, two other Owls won’t be under as much pressure to impress this weekend. Running back Buddy Howell and kicker Greg Joseph were the only former FAU players to sign free agent contracts following the 2018 NFL Draft, held two weekends ago.
No FAU players were selected during the seven-round draft.
Howell appears near the top of most of FAU’s career rushing statistical categories. Though he backed up Devin Singletary as a senior last season, Howell’s 2,941 career rushing yards are the fourth most in program history, as are his 22 rushing touchdowns and his 62.0 rushing yards per game average.
Joseph became the leading scorer in FAU program history early during his senior season. He made 15 of his 21 field goal attempts in 2017 and consistently kicked the ball through the end zone on kickoffs.