Gators May Lead For OT Orlando Franklin

A week ago at this time, the Florida Gators were on the outside looking in for Delray Beach Atlantic's Orlando Franklin. When it comes to the final week before National Signing Day, situations can change very quickly. One week later, on the heels of Franklin's visit to Florida State, the Gators just might have the lead for this 6-6, 300-pound offensive tackle with the huge upside.

(See Orlando Franklin profile)

Franklin was a standout back in July at the Friday Night Lights Mini-Camp at The Swamp. The one-day affair for rising juniors gave Franklin a chance to see the Florida campus and meet the Florida coaching staff up close and personal. He saw enough to know he would like to visit Gainesville again.

Two weeks ago, Franklin made an official visit to Florida and came away impressed with the campus, the coaching staff, the facilities and the people he met during the visit. He followed that visit up with a visit to FSU in Tallahassee last weekend. He was impressed enough that for a day or two he eliminated the Gators. In the days since he started thinking things over and it became clear that perhaps he was a bit hasty. He made a realignment of his leaders.

"I just really had some thinking to do," he said. "I think it's going to be between Florida and Miami. Florida and Miami are ahead of Florida State right now."

Right now it appears that the Gators are the team to beat but there is one huge obstacle for UF looming up ahead. Franklin has visited two of the state's big three football programs and that means there is one remaining.

"There were a lot of things I loved about Florida and Florida got my heart," Franklin said. "I just have to take this visit to Miami and maybe Miami will get my heart. I just have to play this visit out and see how it goes this weekend. I have been a Hurricane fan in the last few years."

Franklin knows that Florida has all the advantages that he is looking for. He's already considering life beyond football so Florida's academics are every bit as important at this point as the direction Coach Urban Meyer is taking the football program. He was quick to point the Florida advantages that swayed him.

"It was the campus and it was family-oriented," he said. "I know how powerful a degree from Florida is and that is what is important to me. There is always life after football. Florida is an all around great place and the coaching staff was great."

The Florida coaching staff visited Franklin on Tuesday at the resource center at his school. The fact that so many Florida coaches made the trip made a very favorable impression.

"There were four or five of the coaches down here a few days ago," he said. "They were telling me I could come in and make an impact. It would be great for me to come to Florida. I am used to playing in a spread style offense that is what my school does here."

Franklin must have an idea where he wants to go. He is planning on making his decision on Monday at his high school. Details on the time and exactly how it will take place have not been finalized but he knows why he will choose the winning school.

"I am just going to follow my heart," he said. "I am going to go, wherever it tells me to go."

Born in Jamaica, raised in Canada, Orlando Franklin has only played football in Florida for one season after sitting out his junior year. He may have as much up-side as anyone in the state of Florida.

Fightin Gators Top Stories