Here's the long and short of it, folks. Western's Jarvion Franklin was an absolute beast on the football field last season. The 6-foot, 220 pound sophomore from Tinley Park, Illinois earned both MAC Freshman of the Year and MAC Offensive Player of the Year in the 2014 campaign. Crazy right? You're freaking right it's crazy, it was the first time that it's happened in the history of the conference. His 1,551 rushing yards were second most in the conference and his 24 rushing TDs were fourth best in the FBS and set a school record. So yeah, you're allowed to freak out about the guy.
Going into the 2014 season, it wasn't immediately obvious who Fleck would name starting RB. All doubt was quelled immediately after the Broncos' opening game against Purdue. Even though WMU couldn't pull out the win, Franklin broke off 163 yards on 19 carries, plus three end zone trips. I remember being totally amazed at the strength and open field speed Franklin exhibited in his first ever collegiate game.
I then proceeded to fanboy over him for the remainder of the season.
Franklin broke 150 yards on the ground in five of the next 11 games, including a 211 yard performance against Idaho. He also hit 149 rushing yards during a 26-14 win at eventual MAC East champion Bowling Green. Franklin was quickly given primary rushing responsibilities, averaging 26.9 carries per game through the first 9 games of the season, four times getting at least 30 carrier per game.
The workload came with a price, however. Franklin carried the ball only five times against Eastern on November 15, and didn't quite seem to be at 100% against Central, Northern Illinois, and in the bowl game against Air Force. Despite athletic ability, over-production can catch-up with anybody, especially for freshmen.
It'll be very interesting to see what other RBs will help balance out Franklin's workload this year to keep him fresh for late season battles against Toledo and Northern Illinois. (And hopefully a December game in Detroit.) According to a recent prediction from David Drew, redshirt freshman Jamauri Bogan will be first in line to give Franklin a breather. The Broncos will want and need Franklin ready to produce a 100 yard game in November.
I think at the end of this season, we'll be seeing Franklin with similar numbers to his freshman year. The Western offense is similarly blessed with QB Zach Terrell, who had the highest QB rating in the MAC last year, along with WRs Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman, who were first and fifth in the conference in receiving yards, respectively, in 2014. The Broncos are going to put up a row-the-boat load of points this year and the balanced style of offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca means Franklin will get a lot of touches.
A repeat Offensive Player of the Year award? Maybe. All I know for sure is it's going to fun to watch this guy burn some defenses again in 2015.