Go Joe Bruin staffer Ryan Tabb caught up with Johnathan Franklin and asked him a few questions. You can listen to more of Franklin’s thoughts on the Holiday Bowl, his time in Westwood and his favorite eats here.
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin doesn’t speak easily of himself. His humility hinders him from talking himself up, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to carve out his own legacy.
“I want to be known as one of the greatest.”
Starting in his freshman season Franklin, strived to create that legacy. While he never saw playing time that year, he was always picking up on what it was that his teammates were doing to create their legacy, but he wanted more. He wanted to be the best he could both on and off the field. Off the field that meant building relationships and becoming a family with his teammates.
It also included the preparation before and after a game.
“I’m in the coaches office on my own; watching film for an hour and a half. I have to do that. Monday, I ran Drake, Tuesday, I went to the pool, and Wednesday, I practiced my footwork.”
Starting in his sophomore season Franklin began to produce, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 126 attempts. He grew more as a player and kick-started a career that would go down in history as one of the all time greatest at UCLA. He would begin to carve out his path to legacy.
“I don’t want to be remembered as just a football player. I want to be remembered as somebody that was humble, somebody of a high character, a man of god, somebody who cared for others, who was well spoken, and as somebody who went after something and achieved it.”
Junior year was one for the books. A season of success for Franklin as an individual, but not for the team. As the humble and caring man he is, no season would be enough if the whole team didn’t benefit from it.
His final season with the Bruins was easily his best, leading the team to nine wins and the Holiday Bowl. During a game against Arizona midseason, Franklin became UCLA’s all time leading rusher.
Even then, though, Franklin’s immediate thoughts came in the context of his teammates.
“I remember that before I could even think, my teammates ran over to me and were like, ‘you broke the record!’ It was such a blessing to have a family like that.”
He credits the trip to San Bernardino for building that family.
“I don’t know where hell is, but it ain’t to far from it. The way our team got so close is because of going there. We were forced to talk to each other and hang out.”
And as a result, UCLA football became a family.
I ended up talking that I never thought I’d have a close relationship with. Before we went, I’d see someone and be like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ Now it’s like I can call anyone on the team and just have a conversation with them, and that’s credited to San Bernardino.”
Franklin’s legacy will go down one of the greats at UCLA and he will be joining the talk of the all time Bruin greats. He has propelled himself to the highest level along with others, such as Troy Aikman or Maurice Jones-Drew, with a sense of urgency and passion that was unrivaled in college football.
Franklin walked in as a normal college freshman, but walks out as one of the all time greats of UCLA.