BOCA RATON – John Franklin says he doesn’t regret leaving a team that may be about to play for the national title to help FAU reach its first-ever Conference USA title game.
One of the stars of the first season of the Netflix Docu-series “Last Chance U,” Franklin transferred to Auburn, where he played for a season before joining FAU a couple weeks before the start of the season.
“God has a plan for everybody,” Franklin said. “I’m here right now. I’m not at Auburn, so I’m focused on being here. I’m happy for those guys. Those are my brothers as well.”
That doesn’t mean that Franklin isn’t paying attention to what’s happening at Auburn.
“I still talk with the guys quite a bit,” Franklin said. “I’m proud of them. I went through a lot with them. They are like my brothers still to this day. I’m glad to see them doing good and in a great position. [Winning the SEC Championship] was the goal that, when I was there, we set from Day 1 after the season last year and to see them accomplish it right now I was happy for them.
Auburn defeated then-No. 1 ranked Alabama on Saturday to clinch a spot in Saturday’s SEC championship game. With a win there, many expect the Tigers to earn a spot in the NCAA’s four-team playoff.
Shortly before the Tigers win, Franklin helped FAU complete an undefeated run through Conference USA play.
The graduate transfer carried the ball three times and caught one pass in FAU’s 31-12 victory over Charlotte that gave FAU its eighth consecutive win.
A former quarterback who converted to wide receiver at Auburn and remains primarily a wideout at FAU, Franklin stepped behind center several times against Charlotte, offering multiple chances to flash his game-breaking speed.
Franklin may get even more opportunities to run the offense on Saturday.
“Coach is trusting me more, especially at quarterback and running our offense a little bit more,” Franklin said. “Whatever I can do to help contribute to winning this ring, I’m all for it.”
In the first meeting of the season against North Texas, FAU’s opponent in Saturday’s C-USA title game, Franklin ran for 69 yards, taking one carry 55 yards for one of his two touchdowns on the season. He also caught one pass for 20 yards – his longest reception of the season.
Franklin wasn’t the only FAU player who held more than a passing interest in a game outside of Conference USA last weekend.
Defensive tackle Jeremia Taleni, a graduate transfer from Pitt who arrived during fall camp, watch the Panthers deal undefeated Miami its first loss.
“I talked to those guys after the game and they were all excited,” Taleni said. “It was a great way to end their season. I was happy on my side. We ended up getting a win that next day. It was a good weekend for me. Everyone was happy.”