Each week leading up to the 2014 football season we'll be profiling current UB football players who are looking to "Make the Leap" or breakout this season. These can include any current UB players whether that be a backup coming into a starters role or a starter that is ready to elevate their game to the next level. This week's defensive player profile is on rising sophomore linebacker Jarrett Franklin.
2013 Season Review
Being the backup to the best linebacker in the country, and one of the all-around best players in college football, for your first season means that you'll be relegated to a reserve role or a rotational role depending on the game situation. However, last year as a true freshman Jarrett Franklin saw a decent amount of game action in the Bulls' defense. In a rotational role playing in 10 games, Franklin amassed 21 tackles, 3.0 for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Franklin had his best game of the season against the Ohio Bobcats where he collected his 1.5 sacks and was in the backfield all night harrassing Tyler Tettleton. Although the half sack may have came on this play, but that's beyond the point...
My point being that Franklin had an excellent time rushing the passer and showcasing he has the lightning quick speed to be in the backfield before the quarterback even knows what hit him.
In addition to being a situational pass rusher behind Bulls legend Khalil Mack, Franklin was also a solid contributor on the Bulls' special teams unit. So, Franklin had a productive year getting acclamated to the Bulls' scheme while getting valuable in-game minutes.
Like his counterpart Brandon Crawford, Franklin will have some obstacles to tackle (pun intended) if he wants to have a successful season:
- Lack of Mack: I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record at this point, and Franklin, like the rest of the defense will need to pick up the slack in the absence of Khalil Mack.
- Brandon Crawford: As I detailed last week, fellow sophomore Brandon Crawford had a wonderful showing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against San Diego State, and he'll be scrapping with Franklin for minutes on the playing field. Franklin will have to bring his A-game in camp and every day in practice to ward off Crawford.
- Size: Franklin is listed at 6-0, 200 lbs, a bit light by outside linebacker standards. I'm sure he's put on weight since the last time the measurements were taken, but if he wants to succeed as a pass rusher he'll need more power at the point of attack to drive back offensive linemen when he's unable to use his speed to get around them.
2014 Season Expectations
Going into the 2014 season, Franklin may be a sleeper to make a big impact in the absence of Khalil Mack, but several writers, including Bull Run's Tim, and yours truly, think Franklin has real star potential. The million dollar question, however, is can he capitalize on said potential? He'll definitely need to add strength, as I outlined above, and he'll also need to start developing an array of pass rush moves so he's need just using a speed rush all the time. Some linemen are better against a speed rush than a bull rush, so Franklin will need both if he wants to really abuse offensive linemen.
I think heading into this year Franklin's statistics will be up from last season, the only question is, by how much? I think seeing extended game action and by, hopefully, adding strength and refining his pass rush moves, he should be able to produce similar numbers to what Adam Redden did last season.
Prediction: 50 tackles, 7 for loss, 4.5 sacks