The WMU-to-Illinois pipeline has run deep with talented prospects in recent years, with perhaps the most famous example being Wheaton, Illinois’ very own Corey Davis, who recently went fifth overall to the Tennessee Titans.
Another famous Illinois native on the WMU roster is Jarvion Franklin, the six-foot, 220 lb. running back from Tinley Park. This year looks to be not his first, but his second breakout season.
It’s rare for something like that to happen, having the opportunity to emerge on the national docket not once, but twice. That said, if there’s one player to do it, it’s certainly Franklin, who already holds the school record for rushign touchdowns with 41 and counting.
Franklin grabbed national attention in 2014, nabbing USA Today first-team freshman All-American honors, as well as a places on the first-team All-MAC squad after a 1,551 yard, 24 rushing touchdown season in his true freshman season.
Franklin set three school records in 2014, including most points responsible for, most rushing touchdowns in a single season and most rushing yards by a freshman in a single season, and was named MAC West Offensive Player of the Week four times. He was eventually named both the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and the MAC Freshman of the Year, the first MAC prospect to ever do so.
Franklin’s role became different in his sophomore and junior seasons with the emergence of other rushers in the stacked WMU stable, including Jamauri Bogan. Despite that, Franklin has shown he is still one of the top and most productive backs in the MAC.
Franklin claimed two more records in his junior season, including the single-game rushing record (281 yards at Akron) and the all-time rushing touchdowns record (41) en route to a productive year as a primary back. He carried the ball 30 or more times in three games in 2016, and owned a stretch of six straight 100+ yard games while splitting time with Bogan.
Franklin finished with 1,555 total yards and 14 touchdowns (12 rushing, two passing) while averaging 117.6 yards per game in 2016, finishing second in rushing overall in the conference to Kareem Hunt.
With Davis and Zach Terrell gone to the NFL and the top three receiving options gone due to graduation, the offense will most likely be centered around the running prowess of Franklin and Bogan, especially early on as first-year coach Tim Lester breaks in Jon Wassink as the new quarterback.
This provides plenty of opportuity for Franklin as a primary rushing option and makes him a must-watch option as a fan of college football in the upcoming season. He hasn’t been able to quite post the statistics he posted in 2014 in recent years but this upcoming season most definitely gives Franklin a chance to showcase his talents and pad the stat sheet.