The wait is over! Ready to start my new journey and soar with the War Eagles on the Plains come January. #WDE #JF3 pic.twitter.com/n8UwP8Rngj— John Franklin III (@jf3_5) November 4, 2015
John Franklin, III left Florida State in the spring due to lack of playing time. He was getting reps at wide receiver and at quarterback. He's obviously athletic, since he was used to portray both Marshall and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in practices, but with all of the competition, he decided to go the JUCO route.
Now, after a season with East Mississippi Community College, he has indicated his intention to transfer to Auburn. Auburn supposedly is recruiting him as an Athlete, not specifically a QB. He has a history playing wide receiver as well, so he may be in line for that position. He was an All-ACC track star, too, so we know he's got some impressive speed.
His hudl profile lists him at 6'2, 185lbs, so he really is in Nick Marshall's range in terms of size. Perhaps a bit taller. However, his 247Sports profile says 6'0, 183 lbs. That would be more in Sean White's height range, but a good 15 lbs lighter. Auburn offered him back on October 23rd and he unofficially visited this past weekend. His official visit will be for the Iron Bowl.
We asked SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliot for his insight into Franklin given his time at Florida State. "He has a strong arm, not always consistent, but he is super athletic and defenses will have to respect the QB run game immediately," Elliot said. That's definitely shown in the highlight footage (though maybe not the inconsistency, given that no one is going to put their incompletions on film).
What scares me about him is how he carries the football. It's out and away from his body in one hand where it could easily be knocked loose. I've seen plenty of option quarterbacks carry the ball in that manner and have fumble issues because of it. He is definitely a talented athlete, though.
As a JUCO guy, he's currently unranked in terms of stars for the 247Sports composite, but he is a 3* for 247Sports. He is the #1 JUCO player listed as an Athelete in the nation according to 247Sports, though, so that should tell you how much they think of him. His rankings could rise if other services rate him, but as it stands right this moment, his pledge puts Auburn back above Texas A&M into the #17 class in the nation.
He is commitment #14 for 2016. Auburn will probably add around 10-11 more to this class, and I suspect many of those will be linemen and linebackers. The Tigers will obviously take the #1 WR in the nation, Kyle Davis, should he choose to join the class, and maybe one other receivers, but linemen (1-2 more on defense, mostly offense) and linebackers are the biggest needs on the board that I see.
Where Will He Play?
I have no idea. Auburn is recruiting him as an Athlete, so this sounds like they're going to go the Jason Smith route of "you'll get a shot at QB." Will that be a legitimate chance to win the job, or will it be like Jason Smith and changing to WR 3 days into spring practice? That remains to be seen.
It may be that Gus has decided he needs a dual-threat guy and doesn't want to throw it all on freshman Woody Barrett next fall. This could also be a depth chart move. Do we think Jeremy Johnson will stick around after this season if Sean White is the clear leader? If it looks like dual-threat is the way we're looking (as it does with Barrett and 2017 commit Lowell Narcisse), what will Tyler Queen do?
Gus Malzahn knows you can't be caught without a great quarterback. That's the reason he brings one in every class. Sometimes things don't pan out (Johnson). Then, as we're seeing right now, there's the question of just how much we need a mobile QB.
Personally, I think Franklin will get every chance to prove that he can be the man at QB. If White still looks like he's the man, then White will be the QB, and Franklin will shift to wide receiver. He may still be the #2 guy at QB, though, even then. A large part of me hopes that's what ends up happening. I think Auburn has a fantastic QB in Sean White. A QB with potential to be one of Auburn's greats in the passing game. We'll see what happens come spring practice, though.