John Franklin III arrived at Auburn with just as much hype as Jarrett Stidham. He started his career at Florida State, transferred to JUCO and arrived at Auburn with talk of being the next Nick Marshall.
Fast. Confident. He was even part of that Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U.”
A year later, JF3 is a mere afterthought trying to find playing time as a wide receiver. In his one start at quarterback in 2016, Franklin wound up being replaced by a not-so-healthy Sean White.
Maybe that’s why Gus Malzahn called him an “ultimate team player” at SEC Media Days last month. Franklin went so far as to working as a gunner on punt return.
Malzahn also said Franklin is “one of the fastest guys” he’s ever seen in pads, something Franklin displayed, for instance, on an 80-yard touchdown run against Louisiana-Monroe.
“You know, people say when you put the ball in his hands, he can do something with it,” Malzahn said.
Still, will Malzahn and new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey find ways to put the ball in Franklin’s hands?
Auburn is already deep at the receiver position with Kyle Davis, Darius Slayton, Eli Stove and Ryan Davis. Will Hastings has made plays. Junior college transfer Sal Cannella looks like he’ll contribute as tight end. Jalen Harris also is in the mix at tight end.
However, Malzahn should find a way to involve perhaps the fastest player on the team in his offense.
A jet sweep here. Go route there. Bubble screens or two.
Franklin should see four to five touches a game. He’s capable of turning two or three into explosive plays. Auburn lacked those last season.
(Special to Gridiron Now from Duane Rankin. Rankin is an award-winning columnist/videographer for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser whose work can also be found in USA TODAY. You can follow Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin)
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