Orlando Franklin is an offensive lineman prospect out of the University of Miami. He is originally from Jamaica, but grew up in Canada. In high school he told his mother that living in Florida would give him the best opportunity to play football. Within a year she had quit her job and moved her family to Florida, where Franklin played a year of football at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach. At Miami he played his first three years at guard and then moved to tackle his senior year, the entirety of which he played with a torn meniscus. He just had surgery on the knee, but impressed scouts at the NFL Combine with his ability to jump back into drills and show his speed running. He impressed me with his choice of running shoes.
I know your politically correct answer to the guard versus tackle question is that you will play whatever position a team needs you to play, but what skills do you have that would make a scout want to draft you as a guard?
Franklin: The ability to play physical for 60 minutes.
What skills make you attractive at tackle?
Franklin: I can go out there and block a faster guy and be physical with him at the same time. A lot of teams see that as a plus.
What do you think your best football quality is?
Franklin: I’m a smart player on the field. I’m really smart compared to a lot of people. I’m able to visualize. I don’t just learn one way—I can learn many ways. I can talk to my coach on the phone and keep going over stuff and be able to visualize it, unlike a lot of players who need to be in the room with the coach.
What’s your best quality off the field?
Franklin: That I’m able to turn it off. I’m able to go back into civilization and be a young man.
I spoke to an Offensive Line coach who told me that linemen do everything with their feet. What do you do to perfect your footwork?
Franklin: Just different sets and muscle memory. The more you work on it, the better it gets. And I try to keep my legs as strong as possible at the same time.
With so much focus on footwork, are you a good dancer?
Franklin: No I can’t dance.
I’ve read some scouting reports that say you do a good job of “staying at home against stunts?” Explain why you are so good at that. (FYI: A “Stunt” occurs when two defensive players try to trick the offensive linemen by switching positions in a way that leaves one offensive lineman out of position to block, therefore freeing up another defensive player to attack the quarterback. When a player “Stays at Home” it means he doesn’t fall for the stunt and adjusts his position accordingly. Read All About Linemen for more information)
Franklin: Just being able to recognize it quicker than a lot of people. When you’re beat off of a stunt, it’s because you just don’t recognize it as quick as you need to. I understand football is all about Gap responsibility. If you have a 3-technique and automatically the 3-technique pinches, something else has to show up in that Gap. You gotta wait on it.
What was your favorite drill at the Combine?
Franklin: I was just happy just to show the coaches I was able to get back so quick from my injury and come back and run. I pride myself on being a fast person so I was happy that I was able to run the 40 [yard dash] so quick out of surgery.
Tell me about your choice of shoes when you ran the 40? (No exaggeration, he wore a pair of running shoes that were 100% hot pink!)
Franklin: Because I wore the pink Nike’s? They were the lightest pair that I had. My agent had gotten me a couple of pairs of shoes. And I think pink really brings out the color of my eyes so that’s why I wore them.
What did that knee injury feel like? (During the 2010 training camp, Franklin realized he had a torn meniscus that he suffered during his junior year. He played his entire senior season with the injury and had surgery to repair it just six weeks before the Combine.)
Franklin: You block it out because, no matter what, I knew I was going to have to play the whole season with it. So I had to forget about it sooner or later and just do anything I could to become the best football player. It was my last year of college—I couldn’t afford to concentrate on being hurt and mess up what I was trying to get accomplished and help out my teammates.
Talk about the camaraderie at the Combine. I noticed it watching the drills and how guys would cheer each other on.
Franklin: When you get to the combine, we’re not really competing against each other. It’s just performing for the coaches. You know what you can do. So a lot of guys were really happy to cheer on other people and it was just a really exciting time for each person.
Did you meet anyone interesting at the Combine?
Franklin: I met another kid from Canada—[Danny] Watkins—so we sat down and had a conversation.
Do you consider yourself a Floridian, a Jamaican or a Canadian?
Franklin: I grew up in Canada—I love Canada. At the same time I was born in Jamaica and I always went back to Jamaica. As far as my roots I consider myself Canadian and Jamaican.
What do you do when you’re not playing football?
Franklin: I go to the movies a lot. I pretty much watch any movie as long as it’s not a scary movie. I go to the movies maybe once or twice a week.
What’s your favorite movie?
Franklin: I’ve probably seen “Man On Fire” maybe 50 times or something.
What career would you do if you weren’t playing football?
Franklin: I’d like to be a guidance counselor so I would be able to help others and give back to children.
What current NFL player do you most admire?
Franklin: I like how Jake Long plays—as a Tackle he’s a really physical person.
Are you a Miami Heat fan?
Franklin: Yeah I’m actually going to the game tonight.
“It was all a dream”…I saw that you posted that line from Notorious B.I.G.’s song “Juicy” on Twitter. What was that about?
Franklin: I put it up there because of the whole Combine thing. I never thought growing up when I was in Canada that I would be able to make it as far as I have today.
Have you ever had a job… other than playing football?
Franklin: I worked at a grocery store once. I was pushing carts when I was like 15. But I told my mom I hated it so she let me quit like two days later.
You have a very special relationship with your mother…talk about what her sacrifices have meant to you?
Franklin: I find myself not really just doing it for myself—I just want to be able to pay her back for every sacrifice and everything she has done for me and my brother.
Is there anything you have in mind that you would like to buy your mom with the money you will make?
Franklin: The first thing I plan on buying is my mom a house. Way before I buy myself a house. So that’s one of the first things I plan on doing.
If I asked your mother to describe you, what would she say?
Franklin: The nicest son in the world…probably.
If I asked your teammates to use one word to describe you, what would they say?
And what word do you think best describes you?
Can you expand on that?
Franklin: A lot of people won’t come up to me because I’ve got weird facial expressions. People think that I’m mean. But if a person really knows me and has been around me and has spoken to me before, they don’t have a problem with my facial expressions. But if you just met me, a lot of people won’t come up to me.
Finally, describe your tattoos?
Franklin: On my right arm I’ve got some Tribal. On top of the tribal, on my shoulder blade it says Canes. On the inside of my arm on that same arm it says “Big O” [his nickname]. On my left arm I have two lions with a Jamaican flag in the background. On my chest I have “One God, One Me, One Love.”
Is that a quote from something?
No, I just figure God comes first ,then I come next, then love comes next…in that order.
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