A recurring series where we will profile every player on Maryland's roster, counting down to kick-off against William & Mary on September 1. Thanks to OBNUG for the idea.
Today we profile Maryland's starting free safety.
Eric Franklin, Senior, Safety, #48
Collegiate Stats: 133 tackles (58 assisted), six and a half for a loss, one sack, one fumble recovery, four passes broken up, three interceptions, one blocked field goal
High School Stats (Senior Year): Around 80 tackles, seven interceptions, nine pass breakups, 13 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns
Recruiting Ratings: Two stars by Rivals, Scout (#113 safety), ESPN (#136 safety)
High School: Archbishop Curley
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
High School Highlights:
Nothing we could find.
How'd He Get to College Park?
The similarities in the backgrounds of Franklin and co-starting safety Matt Robinson are uncanny. Both were safeties/tight ends who also played linebacker and were ranked extremely unfavorably by all of the recruiting sites. As soon as they got on campus, however, they impressed the coaches, played in their first year on campus, and are now the starting safeties for Maryland.
Franklin was a straight-A student and defensive captain at Curley, and even was the team's defensive coordinator in a game during his senior year against Archbishop Spalding because the regular defensive coordinator, assistant coach Warren Schwartz, was unable to attend the game.
Franklin was named to multiple all-star teams in 2008 - small school all-state, first team All-Baltimore City, second team All-Met by the Sun, first team All-MIAA (B-Conference), and Academic All-State.
During his freshman campaign, the first of Maryland's two 2-10 seasons, Franklin played in the last five games of the season, burning his redshirt. As a sophomore, he played in eleven games, starting two, and picked off three passes - all of which came in the last four games of the year.
As a junior last season, the hope was for Franklin to start along side Robinson in a standard free safety-strong safety duo, with Franklin picking up interceptions and Robinson getting the tackles. But after Robinson's injury, youngsters Titus Till and A.J. Hendy ending up starting at the other safety spot, forcing Franklin to gain a larger focus on tackling.
As a result, Franklin ended up second on the team with 106 tackles, with four and a half for a loss, and had six double-digit tackle games, including 15 against West Virginia.
Eric Franklin "the Turtle"
His fifteen tackles against West Virginia
Everything else that happened with Maryland's defense against West Virginia
Franklin re-establishes his rapport with Robinson, posting at least 70 tackles with five interceptions.
Robinson gets hurt again, and Franklin essentially plays as a one-man safety crew again.
Eric Franklin is coming off a 2011 campaign that was perhaps stronger statistically than it was in reality, through no fault of his own. When Robinson got hurt, Franklin's role was expanded beyond what any safety should have to do - and his normally strong coverage skills suffered as a result.
This year, Robinson is back, but the depth behind him is even more depleted if injury happens to strike again. Till has left for James Madison, and Hendy has moved to cornerback (although the smart money is on him still playing some safety this year). What's left is walk-on Clarence Claiborne, redshirt freshmen Undray Clark, and a few incoming freshmen who would probably be best-suited redshirting.
In an ideal world, Franklin and Robinson will be able to play throughout the season, leaving safety as a position without concern for Maryland's defense. Robinson's got the strength and size, Franklin has the coverage skills and experience. We'll have to see what happens, but both of them have done well on the collegiate level so far and have skills that complement each other nearly perfectly.
Our next player is a true freshman who recently switched from wide receiver to defensive back.