LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Senior defensive end John Franklin has been invited to play in the seventh annual National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl. The premier postseason all-star game for draft-eligible college football players will be held at the legendary Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.
"It's a great honor, not very many people get this opportunity," Franklin said. "I'm grateful I've gotten this opportunity and I'm excited to show that all my hard work has paid off. I think I'm one of the better players and I'm going to show it at the game, I think maybe I'm underrated and that's fine with me. Like I always say, you only get opportunities and I'm going to make the most of my opportunities going forward. Whether it be this game or a chance with a practice squad, whatever it may be. All you can ask for is an opportunity."
"I am excited for John," remarked head coach Clint Conque. "This is a huge opportunity to compete in this high-valued event. He's been a very fine player for us all four years. John is a big, strong athlete that has been very productive and dominant at times. He has a high ceiling and is only scratching the surface of his true potential."
Founded in 2012 and more than just the game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is a week-long experience that provides players with the chance to showcase their game to NFL scouts and coaches, while learning from the best in the business. Preparing players for the speed and intensity of professional football, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl also prepares student-athletes for the business and lifestyle changes that come with it.
Well known former NFL head coach Mike Martz and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Darrell Green will be the coaches of the American and National teams competing in the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Franklin will have the opportunity to engage with a host of current and former NFL stars and personnel. A year ago, participants had the privilege of competing in front of more than 200 scouts from all 32 NFL teams as well as eight general managers and 14 personnel directors. Over 60% of past participants currently appear on NFL rosters.
During the week of practices and events, all of which will culminate in the highly anticipated NFLPA Collegiate Bowl game, Franklin will have the opportunity to attend NFLPA University. A program that provides important information to aid in the transition into professional football from college life.
A native of Greenville, Texas, Franklin has had a remarkable journey from going 0-40 as a prep player at Greenville High School to a First Team All-Southland Conference selection in 2016. A preseason All-Southland First Team selection this year, Franklin has racked up 42 total tackles this fall, including 20 solo stops, a team-best 10.5 tackles for loss for negative 36 yards and 2.5 sacks. Having played in 39 games with 21 starts throughout his four-year Lumberjack career, Franklin is moving up Stephen F. Austin's all-time career lists for both tackles for loss and sacks. He currently has 34.5 TFL in his career, sitting sixth on the all-time school list and just two TFL shy of fifth place (Kenneth Charles, 2007-10). Franklin's 16.5 sacks rank him ninth on SFA's all-time career sacks list, only three sacks behind eighth place (Keith Melcher, 1985-88).
Franklin is looking to become the fifth Lumberjack to suit up for an NFL team during the Clint Conque era at SFA. He would join Gus Johnson (2014), Terran Vaughn 2015, Zach Conque (2016) and Justice Liggins (2016) as former 'Jacks who have made an appearance on a NFL roster in recent years.
With plethora of looks from NFL teams this fall, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will give Franklin another strong opportunity to become the first NFL Draft pick for SFA since 2011. Former All-American linebacker Jabara Williams was taken 228th in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, becoming the 32nd draft pick for the 'Jacks in program history.