John Franklin III played college football at Florida State, Auburn and Florida Atlantic, but he’s best known from his time at East Mississippi Community College, where he was one of the stars of the Netflix documentary series Last Chance U. Now he’s getting what may be his last chance at a football career in Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of Franklin what all coaches seem to say about him: He’s a phenomenal athlete, but he needs to find a way to contribute on the field.
“He’s one of those guys who has got so much talent and athletic ability, you’re trying to find a place for him,” Arians said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We ran that little wildcat package with him, and he did a great job with it. He can throw. [Now] he’s coming in as a wide receiver, so he’ll be in the offensive rooms. He could possibly give us a third quarterback on Sunday with his ability, so he’s got a lot of options, and it’s up to him to make the ball club as a wideout.”
Franklin has spent time as a quarterback, wide receiver, running back, defensive back and return man and made some flashy plays but never found the consistency coaches were looking for. Last year he was on the Bears’ practice squad as a cornerback, while this year the Bucs will have him learning the offense. Franklin says he’s just glad to be in the NFL, after his low point documented on Last Chance U.
“Junior college, it was life-changing for me,” Franklin said. “That’s when I hit rock bottom. That was a time when I grew the most as an individual and the most as a player and really the most as a man. It taught me how to survive. I was all the way out in Mississippi by myself. School was bad. Everybody got to go home, and we had only six guys from out of state. You had to learn to survive. Dinner was at 6, and we got practice until 9. We would only have Subways and gas stations, so how were you going to eat? It really made me grow up and learn to do without.”
Now Franklin has one more opportunity to show that his long, winding path in football has a final destination in the NFL.