BOURBONNAIS – Asked about his depth at cornerback the other day Matt Nagy kicked off his answer with a name that surprised a few.
“You look at a guy like John Franklin who played a different position (quarterback at Florida Atlantic) and now he’s coming back, so there’s some rawness to him," Nagy said. “But he has the skillset.”
But if you’ve been paying attention you weren’t surprised at all.
Franklin has been flashing in the secondary, making plays since day one of training camp and during Tuesday’s work he was actually getting a few reps with the ones in nickel and dime drills.
John Franklin III began his college football career at Florida St. as the scout team quarterback on the 2013 FBS national championship team.
He transferred to East Mississippi Community College in 2015 and after one season there enrolled at Auburn for the 2016 season where he got one start under center.
In August of 2017 he switched to wide receiver and transferred again to Florida Atlantic where he was able to play immediately as a graduate transfer.
Undrafted and then unwanted as a free agent, Franklin was invited to the Bears 2018 rookie minicamp to try out as a defensive back and showed enough that the Bears signed him.
He was waived at the final cut but did two stints on the practice squad and was signed to a reserve/future contract this past January.
After his nomadic and sometimes tortured path to the NFL, ask Franklin what it would mean to make this team and he says, “Man it would make the former four-year old John Franklin III very happy.
“You know its been my dream and if you follow my story and look at my story, I kind of gave it up so many times and a lot of people would have given up so many times," Franklin said.
“Just to be here is a dream come true but to really be on the 53, out there on Sundays, prime time, lights, that’s what all the hard work from four years old to now all leads up to and you know I’m not going to fall short of my goal because I put in too much work and I believe in myself too much to just quit on myself now.”
How difficult has it been for him to get to the point where he’s actually competing for a job at cornerback in the NFL?
“Coming from playing quarterback I already knew what was going on, on the other side but I didn’t know how to get my body in position to make plays," he said. “I think now that the biggest difference is physically I’ve learned how to train my body to be able to move certain ways and now I’m making the plays that I knew were coming last year but I didn’t necessarily have my body in the condition to get there.
“It was a challenge and it’s a process and the more I see it, the more I do it, the better I’ll be at it.”
The best part for this bright and engaging young man may be the switch from being the hunted to the hunter.
“Yeah I mean I’m so used to running away from everybody trying to kill me” he says with a huge grin and few giggles before continuing," he said, “and now I get to control this so I feel like I’m on the right side of it this time.
“You know I don’t have nobody trying to take my head off and on defense you get to control how much you want to put into it.”
For a young man who has had to fight so hard just to get to where he is today, when you ask him if he has any regrets his answer is no chance.
“I just embraced it instead of fighting it, I fought it off for a little while, didn’t want to play defense, I never played it but you know why not?" he said. “I’m living my dream and if this is how I have to take care of my family then this is what I want to do.”
Franklin is still a longshot to make this Bears team, but who ever though he’d get a chance to get here at all?