The Pittsburgh Steelers had UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin in for a pre draft visit on Thursday, and once again, our scouting buddy Dave-Te\’ Thomas was kind enough to give us his detailed scouting report profile on him, which you can read below. Make sure to listen to the latest episode of the podcast as we had Thomas on for nearly a full hour talking about the Steelers draft and prospects.
JOHNATHAN A. “Jetski” FRANKLIN
Running back/Return Specialist
University of California, Los Angeles Bruins
Los Angeles, California
Susan Miller Dorsey High School
The Political Science major followed the coaching “party line” during his first three seasons as a Bruin, even though that previous staff did not properly utilize their explosive ball carrier whose nickname, “Jetski,” suggests that he would more ideally be suited for a fast-paced attack. Under previous head coach Rick Neuheisel, the talented runner was forced to alter his game, as his former mentor stressed a rushing attack that relegated Franklin to seeing most of his carries between the tackles.
Under the new staff, head coach Jim Mora immediately recognized that Franklin was his most explosive weapon, one that was capable of breaking the game open operating out of the newly installed “no huddle shotgun” formation. The change in offensive philosophy has resulted in the tailback rewriting most of the school’s rushing records during his final campaign.
It was obvious that Neuheisel and staff grossly misused Franklin and the result was felt in the won/loss column, as the Bruins underwent 7-6, 4-8 and 6-8 seasons during the ball carrier’s first three seasons. Under Mora, Franklin led the way for UCLA’s march back into postseason action, boasting a 9-5 record and a berth on the Holiday Bowl, as the team’s featured ball carrier ranked third in the Pac-12 Conference and ninth in the nation with an average of 123.86 rushing yards per game.
The change in philosophy resulted in a remarkable metamorphous in Franklin’s overall game. In Neuheisel’s final season at the helm, the staff called upon their tailback for just nine carries inside the red zone, a drastically low total for a ball carrier. Under Mora, the tailback toted the ball 36 times in that same area.
The former regime also seemed very reluctant to throw the ball to their running backs out of the backfield. Through his first 39 games as a Bruin, Franklin had only 25 receptions for 194 yards and no touchdowns. In 2012, the senior snatched 33 passes for 323 yards and a pair of scores.
The former staff would bench Franklin frequently, leaving their ball carrier to wonder when he would get on the field again after a miscue or fumble. The new staff showed great confidence in the senior, often leaving him on the field, knowing that he could “move the chains” in a variety of roles. In addition to scoring fifteen times (thirteen rushing and twice via receptions), the tailback was a regular table-setter, as he had key runs to set up 25 other touchdown drives and on seven possessions that have resulted in field goals.
In 53 games as a Bruin, Franklin set the school career-records with 4,403 yards rushing and 4,936 all-purpose yards. His rushing yardage total also placed him fifth in Pac-12 Conference history and ranks fourth in the nation among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players. He gained at least 100 yards rushing in nineteen of those contests, good for second in school annals behind Gaston Green’s twenty 100-yard performances (1984-87).
As a sophomore, Franklin gained 1,127 yards on the ground, establishing a new Bruins season-record with 1,734 more as a senior. He is just the eighth player in school history to repeat as a member of the Bruins’ prestigious 1,000-yard Rushing Club. His 788 rushing attempts mark the third time a UCLA player accounted for 700 carries at the school, as that figure is presently fourth among active college players.
Frankin’s average of 5.59 yards per rushing attempt is the third-best mark in school annals, surpassed by only Wendell Tyler (6.04 ypc; 1973-76) and Kermit Johnson (6.74 ypc; 1971-73). Among active players, he is tenth in the nation with 4,925 all-purpose yards.
Prior to his arrival on the UCLA campus, Franklin lettered three times for Susan Miller Dorsey High School head coach Paul Knox, competing as a tailback and linebacker. After seeing action during his sophomore campaign, gaining 150 yards rushing with 70 tackles that included six sacks and a trio of fumble recoveries for the Dons’ team that went 10-3 in 2005, he guided the team to an 8-4 mark as a junior. Despite being limited by injuries, he toted the ball for 510 yards and registered three sacks.
As a senior, Franklin received a four-star prospect rating and was regarded as the 25th-best player in the state of California, along with ranking 16th in the nation at his position, according to Rivals.com. Scout.com rated him as the 55th-best prep ball carrier in the country and he was a Cal-High Sports All-State third-team choice in 2007.
Franklin rushed for 1,732 yards and 12 touchdowns on 215 carries (8.06 ypc) as a senior, going over 200 yards on the ground in five games. He added 40 tackles and 6.5 sacks as a 185-pound two-way player that campaign, as he was selected All-City first-team as a running back and third-team as a linebacker.
Additionally, Franklin was named Coliseum League Player of the Year and was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame high school registry for excellence in academics and football. He also lettered twice for the Dons’ track and field team, competing in the sprints and relays. As a freshman, he won the 100-meter City sprint championship. As a junior, he was a member of third-place 4×400 relay team at the State meet and guided his relay team to the City championship.
Franklin red-shirted in 2008, his first season at UCLA, but was the offensive co-winner of the team\’s Charles Pike Memorial Award for Outstanding Scout Team Player. He played in all thirteen games in 2009, starting the first eight contests until being limited to reserve duties the final five contests due to a nagging ankle sprain suffered in the fifth clash vs. Oregon. He became just the second first-year player in school history to record two 100-yard rushing performances in a season, finishing with 566 yards and five touchdowns on 126 carries (4.49 ypc). He also made seven catches for 68 yards.
In 2010, Franklin started ten times, appearing in ten contests. He was the offensive winner of UCLA\’s Henry R. “Red” Sanders Award for Most Valuable Player, as he carried 214 times for 1,127 yards (5.27 ypc) and eight touchdowns. His ground yardage total rank 11th on the school season-record list and were the most by a Bruin since Skip Hicks ran for 1,282 yards in 1997. He also had ten catches for 62 yards and recorded two solo tackles while recovering four fumbles by fellow offensive players to keep scoring drives alive.
As a junior, Franklin started all fourteen games, leading the Bruins in rushing for the third consecutive season, as he generated 976 yards with five touchdowns on 166 chances (5.88 ypc). Ball security issues (seven fumbles, six recovered by the opposition) would see him on the bench during the second half of several games and he was rarely used as a receiver, finishing with just nine catches for 74 yards (8.22 ypc) that included one score. Rather than sulk over erratic playing time, he also volunteered for special teams duty, posting six tackles (4 solos) as a member of the punt coverage unit.
The Doak Walker Award finalist (nation’s best running back) and Maxwell Award semi-finalist (college player of the year) added All-American and All-Pac 12 Conference honors as a senior. He finished third in the league and ninth in the nation with an average of 123.86 yards per game on the ground, as his 1,734 yards set a school season-record. His 282 carries rank second on the Bruins’ annual record chart, averaging 6.15 yards per attempt with thirteen touchdowns.
Franklin ranked 19th in the nation and fourth in the conference while setting another school annual mark with 2,062 all-purpose yards. He ranked third on the squad with a career-best 33 receptions for 323 yards and scored 90 points while starting thirteen of the fourteen contests he appeared in. That performance earned the ball carrier an invitation to the prestigious 2013 Senior Bowl.
During the week-long practices in Mobile, Alabama, Franklin quickly separated himself from the other running backs in attendance. He greatly impressed NFL personnel with his pass blocking skills, adding to his reputation as a solid ball carrier. He compensated for a lack of explosion after the hand-off with a good burst through the holes and the leg drive to consistently break tackles.
Franklin also continued to show natural hands catching the ball out of the backfield. “He does a really nice job of using his hands and his feet to block,” a team scout told CBS Sports. “He\’s got good speed and is just big enough to handle pass protection. We\’ve had our eyes on him for some time.”
Franklin started 45-of-53 games for the Bruins, carrying 788 times for a school career-record 4,403 yards (5.59 ypc) that included 31 touchdowns…His 4,403 yards topped the old UCLA all-time record of 3,731 yards by Gaston Green (1984-87), as he became only the seventh Bruin to ever amass over 3,000 yards on the ground…The eighth player in Pac-12 Conference history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career (Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor would become the ninth in 2012), Franklin’s 4,403 yards rank fifth in league history behind
Charles White of Southern California (6,245; 1976-79), LaMichael James of Oregon (5,082; 2009-11), Ken Simonton of Oregon State (5,044; 1998-2001) and Marcus Allen of Southern California (4,810; 1978-81)…Joined Gaston Green (708) and DeShaun Foster (722; 1998-2001) as the only UCLA players to carry the ball more than 700 times in a career, as his 788 totes set a Bruins all-time record…With his school season-record 1,734 rushing yards as a senior, he became the eighth Bruin to record more than one 1,000-yard rushing campaign at UCLA…His 4,936 all-purpose yards surpassed the previous school career-record of 4,688 yards by Maurice Jones-Drew (2003-05) and is good for tenth among active FBS players…His 2,062 all-purpose yards as a senior set another school annual record…Has rushed for over 100 yards nineteen times during his career, one shy of the UCLA all-time mark of twenty by Gaston Green…His three 200-yard games rushing tied Gaston Green and Karim Abdul-Jabbar (1992-95) for the school career-record…Two of his 200-yard performances came in consecutive games (214 vs. Rice and 217 vs. Nebraska in 2012), tying Green for second (224 vs. Southern California and 266 vs. Brigham Young in 1986) on the school list behind the three-straight 200-yard efforts by Karim-Jabbar in 1995 (261 vs. Stanford, 217 vs. California and 207 vs. Arizona State)…Also caught 59 passes for 528
Yards (8.95 ypc) and three touchdowns, finishing with 170 points.
The Maxwell Award semifinalist, given to the Collegiate Player of the Year, Franklin added All-American first-team accolades from CBS Sports and second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and was also named to the All-Pac 12 Conference second-team by the league’s coaches…The Doak Walker Award finalist, team MVP and squad captain ranked third in the conference and ninth in the nation with an average of 123.86 yards per game on the ground, also placing fourth in the Pac-12 with an average of 147.29 all-purpose yards per game…Started thirteen contests, appearing in fourteen games, as the senior set a school season-record with 1,734 yards rushing, placing second on the Bruins’ annual chart with 282 carries (6.15 ypc) while running for thirteen touchdowns…His yardage total topped the previous school record of 1,571 yards by Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1995, as Abdul-Jabbar’s 296 rushing attempts that season is the only figure ahead of Franklin’s 282 on the record list…Ranked third on the team with a career-high 33 receptions for 323 yards (9.79 ypc) and two touchdowns…Scored 90 points, as he also recovered a fumbled kickoff for a 5-yard advancement…Touched the ball 315 times for a school season-record 2,062 all-purpose yards, erasing the previous mark of 1,878 yards by Terrence Austin in 2008…Gained at least 100 yards rushing in nine contests, including beginning his senior campaign with a pair of 200-yard performances…Also delivered five games with multiple touchdown runs…Was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week in both of the team’s first two games, vs. Rice and Nebraska, as he became the third player in school annals to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games…In the season opener vs. Rice, Franklin took advantage of his explosive quickness in the Bruins’ newly installed “no huddle shot-gun” offense to earn Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week honors with 214 yards on fifteen carries, matching his career-best with three scoring scampers in a 49-24 triumph. His day featured a 74-yard touchdown jaunt midway through the first quarter, ending that frame when he recovered a fumbled kickoff by UCLA’s Steven Manfro and advanced the ball five yards. Franklin’s 214 yards rank 15th on the school game-record list while his three touchdown runs tied his personal best that he first set vs. Houston on September 18th, 2010…The following week, the tailback was again named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week vs. Nebraska, as he ran for a career-high 217 yards on 26 chances, adding 59 yards with a touchdown on three receptions in a 36-30 decision over the Huskers. His 217 yards tied Karim Abdul-Jabbar (vs. California in 1995) for the 12th-best game total by a Bruin. It also marked the third time that he had rushed for over 200 yards during his career, joining Abdul-Jabbar 261 vs. Stanford, 217 vs. California and 207 vs. Arizona State in 1995) and Gaston Green (266 vs. BYU in the 1986 Freedom Bowl, 224 vs. USC in 1986 and 220 vs. California in 1987) as the only players in UCLA annals to rush for over 200 yards more than once in a career and the third to have back-to-back 200-yard contests…
Franklin went over the “century mark” for the third consecutive game vs. Houston, as he rushed 25 times for 110 yards and made four catches for 58 yards. He recorded his 13th 100-yard rushing game, tying DeShaun Foster (1998-2001) for fifth in school history…The Bruins returned to their winning form when they routed Colorado, 42-14, as the senior tailback had his fourth 100-yard performance in five games, tallying 111 yards on fifteen runs to go with 48 yards on three receptions…Franklin continued his march through the Bruins’ record books with fifteen runs for 102 yards vs. California. It was his 15th 100-yard rushing game tied Skip Hicks and Karim Abdul-Jabbar (1992-95) for third in Bruins annals…In a hard-fought 45-43 victory over Arizona State, the senior delivered 164 yards and a pair of touch-downs on 26 carries and had one catch for four yards…Followed with his seventh 100-yard rushing game in nine 2012 contests vs. Arizona, as the tailback piled up 162 yards on 24 attempts with two scores, and also made three catches for 28 yards in a 66-10 romp over the Wildcats. Franklin ended the game with 3,873 yards on the ground to top the previous school career-record of 3,731 yards by Gaston Green (1984-87), as he also surpassed Yvenson Bernard of Oregon State (3,862 yards; 2004-07) and Trung Canidate of Arizona (3,824 yards; 1996-99) for ninth on the Pac-12 Conference all-time record chart. It was his 17th game with at least 100 yards rushing, tying Freeman McNeil (1977-80) for second in Bruins history…In the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game, the senior torched the Cardinal for 194 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
The All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention started all fourteen games for the Bruins, ranking tenth in the league in rushing with an average of 69.71 yards per game…Paced the team with 166 carries for 976 yards (5.88 ypc) and five touchdowns, adding 74 yards and a score on nine receptions (8.22 ypc)…Also recorded six tackles (4 solos) with the punt coverage unit…Touched the ball 175 times for 1,050 yards, an average of 75.00 yards per game and 6.00 yards per attempt…Recorded 39 first downs (23.49% of his attempts), converting 7-of-15 third-down snaps (46.67%) and 1-of-2 fourth-down tries…Had 31 runs for at least ten yards (18.67%), including twelve for 20 yards or longer…Rushed nine times inside the red zone, with four coming on goal-line snaps…Turned the ball over six times on seven fumbles, as he was tackled for a loss ten times and at the line of scrimmage for no gain on sixteen other totes…Bothered at midseason with a hip contusion suffered in the fourth contest vs. Oregon State…Opened the season vs. Houston, as he rushed for over 100 yards for the eighth time during his career, toting the pigskin sixteen times for 128 yards and a touchdown. He also made two catches for 17 yards in a 38-34 loss…In the Washington State clash, five of Franklin’s twelve attempts produced first downs, finishing with 110 yards in a 28-25 decision…Ran for over 100 yards for the third time during his junior season, totaling 162 yards on fifteen attempts with a touchdown in a 45-6 drubbing of Colorado.
Franklin was the offensive recipient of UCLA\’s Henry R. “Red” Sanders Award, given to the squad’s Most Valuable Player…Added All-Pac 10 Conference second-team honors from the league’s coaches…Appeared in all twelve games, starting ten times, as he led the team and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with an average of 93.92 yards per game rushing… Carried 214 times for 1,127 yards (5.27 ypc) and eight touchdowns, as he collected at least 100 yards on the ground five times, including a season-best 217 yards vs. Washington State…Recorded three-straight 100-yard games vs. Houston, Texas and Washington State, becoming the first Bruin to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive contests since Maurice Jones-Drew accomplished that feat vs. Illinois, Washington and San Diego State in 2004…
Winner of UCLA\’s George W. Dickerson Award for Outstanding Offensive Player vs. Southern California, as his 109 rushing yards marked the first time a Bruin tallied over 100 yards on the ground vs. the Trojans since DeShaun Foster in 1988…Added 63 yards on ten receptions, as he also recorded two solo tackles and recovered four fumbles, advancing one two yards vs. Texas…Turned the ball over four times on six fumbles…Franklin reached the end zone, scoring three times on 26 carries for 158 yards, adding a 9-yard catch in a 31-13 triumph over Houston…Turned the ball over on a fumble during his first rushing attempt and Texas marched down field for a 39-yard field goal, but he made up for miscues with 19 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown while also recording a solo tackle in a 34-12 upset victory…UCLA tailback Derrick Coleman rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns, and Franklin added 216 yards with a score on 30 tries, as UCLA scored twice in the fourth quarter for a 42-28 victory over Washington State…For the fourth time in 2010, Franklin went over the century rushing mark, touching the ball 23 times for 100 yards and a touchdown vs. Oregon State…Notched his fifth game this season with 100 or more yards on the ground and became the first Bruin to rush for at least 100 yards vs. the Southern California Trojans since DeShaun Foster ran for 109 yards on November 21st, 1998, as the sophomore had thirteen attempts and a score, but also turned the ball over once on a fumble.
The red-shirt freshman started the team’s first eight games and appeared in all thirteen contests, but a nagging ankle sprain vs. Oregon in the fifth clash would limit Franklin to reserve duties for the final five games…Still managed to lead the team with 566 yards and five touchdowns on 126 carries (4.49 ypc)…Became just the second first-year player in school history to rush for over 100 yards more than once in a season (119 vs. Kansas State and 101 vs. California, as Tyler Ebell set the Bruins mark with six 100-yard efforts in 2002…His 566 yards rank sixth for a UCLA freshman, while his average of 43.54 yards per game on the ground finished 12th in the Pac-10 Conference…Also caught seven passes for 68 yards (9.71 ypc) and recovered a pair of his own fumbles (fumbled a total of eight times, turning the ball over three times).
Franklin did not see game action during his first season in the program, but was the recipient of UCLA\’s Charles Pike Memorial Award, given to the Bruins’ Outstanding Scout Team Offensive Player.
2009 Season…Limited to a reserve role for the team’s final five games due to a lingering ankle sprain that he first suffered in the fifth contest vs. Oregon (10/10).
2011 Season…Hobbled by a hip contusion that he suffered in the Oregon State clash (9/24).
4.40 in the 40-yard dash…1.53 10-yard dash…2.55 20-yard dash…4.16 20-yard shuttle…
11.23 60-yard shuttle…6.79 three-cone drill…35-inch vertical jump…9’10” broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times…29 1/4-inch arm length…9 ½-inch hands…71 7/8-inch wingspan.
Franklin lettered three times at Susan Miller Dorsey (Los Angeles, Cal.) High School for Dons’ head coach Paul Knox, competing as a tailback and linebacker…After seeing action during his sophomore campaign, gaining 150 yards rushing with 70 tackles that included six sacks and a trio of fumble recoveries for a team that went 10-3 in 2005, he guided the team to an 8-4 mark as a junior. Despite being limited by injuries, he toted the ball for 510 yards and registered three sacks…As a senior, Franklin received a four-star prospect rating and was regarded as the 25th-best player in the state of California, along with ranking 16th in the nation at his position, according to Rivals.com. Scout.com rated him as the 55th-best prep ball carrier in the country and he was a Cal-High Sports All-State third-team choice in 2007…That season, Franklin rushed for 1,732 yards and 12 touchdowns on 215 carries (8.06 ypc), going over 200 yards on the ground in five games. He added 40 tackles and 6.5 sacks as a 185-pound two-way player that campaign, as he was selected All-City first-team as a running back and third-team as a linebacker…Some highlights from his final prep season included 120 yards on 25 carries while recording a sack vs. Fremont in the season opener, followed by 160 yards on fifteen totes vs. Jordan while also recovering a fumble on defense. He carried 26 times for 268 yards and recorded a pair of sacks vs. Santa Margarita, as he then picked up 109 yards on 16 runs that included a 61-yard score vs. Birmingham. His 68-yard scoring scamper was the feature during a 205-yard effort on 18 attempts, along with posting 1.5 sacks in the Dons’ second meeting vs. Fremont, as he also ran for 220 yards with two touchdowns that included a 73-yarder on just 13 attempts (16.92 ypc) vs. Crenshaw. Franklin produced 83 yards on just five runs with a 40-yard score vs. Locke, scored twice on the ground vs. Jefferson and had his fifth 200-yard performance for 2007 with 30 carries for 221 yards vs. San Pedro. He followed that game with two sacks and three touchdowns to go with 151 yards on 25 totes vs. Venice…Additionally, Franklin was named Coliseum League Player of the Year and was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame high school registry for excellence in academics and football…Also lettered twice for the Dons’ track and field team, competing in the sprints and relays…As a freshman, he won the 100-meter City sprint championship…As a junior, he was a member of third-place 4×400 relay team at the State meet and guided his relay team to the City championship.
Political Science major…Career objectives include becoming a psychologist, teen mentor and motivational speaker…Named to the academic honor roll at his high school his last three school years…Former UCLA Bruin running back Raymond Carter\’s father was Johnathan’s first youth football coach… Hobbies include writing poetry and acting…Hs appeared on the teen reality show “Baldwin Hills”…One of two children (sister, Tierra) of Pamela Andrews…Nicknamed “Jetski”…Born Johnathan A. Franklin on 10/23/89 in Los Angeles, California.