Franklin Offers Apology, Prepares for Alabama

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas safety Matt Harris and the Razorbacks knew what Jerry Franklin wanted to do Sunday.

It was obvious the linebacker felt horrible about his costly mistake Saturday. He knew the uncharacteristic moment, which led to his ejection in the second quarter of the 52-41 loss to Georgia, hurt his team.

So Harris said Franklin wanted to apologize.

"We stopped him in his tracks," Harris said. "We said, ‘We know you're sorry. Get back on the field because we need you.'"

Franklin followed his teammates' advice and has been back on the practice field this week, preparing for Arkansas' game at No. 3 Alabama on Saturday. But the sophomore also felt compelled to offer an apology for his actions after Wednesday's practice.

Franklin stood behind a lectern, taking blame for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties he committed following the same play last Saturday. The first flag was for pushing two Georgia players. The second was for bumping into an official.

"I'd like to apologize about what happened," said Franklin, who spoke to the media for the first time since his ejection. "I take full responsibility for both penalties. Pushing the players wasn't right and bumping into the referee wasn't right."

Franklin said he also apologized in letters to the Southeastern Conference officials and Arkansas chancellor David Gearhart. The SEC said earlier this week Franklin would not be punished further.

In reality, watching Arkansas' defense struggle from the sideline was hard enough. Georgia carved into Arkansas' 21-10 lead when Franklin left the game. Georgia's Richard Samuel scored on an 80-yard run after the ejection, capitalizing on an assignment error by freshman Terrell Williams, Franklin's replacement.

It only got worse from there for Arkansas. And Franklin.

"It was heartbreaking watching your team go out and battle, knowing you can't be with them," Franklin said.

Teammate Adrian Davis said the Razorbacks didn't blame Franklin for the loss, but his absence was obvious.

"He's one of our defensive leaders," Davis said. "It was hard when he got ejected. You could tell that by losing him, we lost something. It was very hard for the defense."

Said Harris: "Jerry knows he could've stopped a lot of that."

Franklin's lapse in judgment took Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson by surprise. He described Franklin as a "quiet guy."

The sophomore started every game as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and led the team in tackles (87). But Robinson said Franklin has clearly been humbled by Saturday's ejection.

"He's remorseful about what he's done and he's done what he's had to do to get himself back," Robinson said. "I mean, he's a guy that understands the importance of it obviously. ...

"Sometimes you don't know what you have until you lose it."

Franklin will get an opportunity to make up for the mistake against the Crimson Tide. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Monday that Franklin was being punished "in-house" for his ejection, but would be back in the starting lineup Saturday.

Linebacker Wendel Davis said Franklin has been working hard in practice, determined to make up for lost playing time.

"He feels like he let us down," Davis said. "He wants to go out and show he made a mistake and he's ready to help us win."

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