It was less than a year ago that defensive tackle Ja'mion Franklin was coming off a solid sophomore season at powerhouse Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) and seemed destined to land a coveted Maryland offer. About 12 months later, Franklin just completed his junior season at the school he attended his freshman year, North Caroline (Ridgeley, Md.), and he still doesn’t have a hometown look.
“Maryland is still in touch, but not as much as before,” the 6-foot-2.5, 305-pound Franklin said. “When I was at Gilman [Coach] London was talking to me, but now it’s Coach [Matt] Barnes. I talk to him sometimes, but we’re still building a relationship. I feel like in the spring, it’ll pick up around then. I know [Barnes is] busy right now [with the 2017 class].”
Recruiting should pick up across the board even before the spring evaluation period. Although some college coaches may be wary of the competition Franklin played against at North Carolina, the defensive tackle put together a dominant campaign. He recorded 53 tackles, six sacks and five forced fumbles for a squad that went to the regional finals.
“We had a pretty good year. Last year, they won the regional finals, so it was pretty good to get back there in back-to-back years. We had some key injuries, but we managed to fight and made it to the regional finals, so I’d say it was pretty successful,” Franklin said. “And as an individual, I think I really stepped up this year and solidified myself as a leader. I was a defensive captain and it really molded me into being a leader, and next year it’ll be even better.
“I played mostly defensive tackle, and then a little left tackle and tight end. My get off this year really improved -- I was getting in the backfield, intercepting handoffs and getting to the quarterback. I really worked on my pass-rush moves, my hands and my footwork too, and that really showed.”
One nearby college already took note and handed Franklin his first offer. University of Virginia came in and the staff has been in close contact for several months now.
“I have a great relationship with Virginia and I can see myself playing for those guys,” Franklin said. “It’s a great academic school, and that’s what’s really important to me. A degree from there would really set me up for after football. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing the school this winter.”
In addition to UVA, Franklin said he hears the most from Wake Forest, Boston College and a couple other ACC programs. He said Notre Dame has recently sent out feelers as well.
“Hopefully things work out with a few of these schools,” Franklin said. “But the two I definitely want offers from are Maryland and Penn State – those two would be the tops.”
Franklin has visited College Park, Md., numerous times, including for junior days, camps and games. He was invited to the Terps’ special Friday Night Freak Show camp and the program’s DMV Day. Most recently, Franklin attended the Terps’ game against Ohio State.
“You can see Maryland a young team, but they showed a lot of fight. It’s all about the process, man,” Franklin said. “Those young guys are competitors and they really respond to the coaches. You can see it’s coming together with that program. There’s a lot to like about what’s going on at Maryland.”
Franklin went on to say he hopes Barnes and Co. up the pursuit and eventually present a scholarship down the line.
“Maryland is always going to be a favorite,” Franklin said. “It’s my hometown and my family could see me play there. I love the coaches there, and I love what they’re doing there with the recruits; the facilities; and all of that. It’s a great school academically too, which is always big.”
The only other program Franklin was able to check out recently was PSU. He attended the Nittany Lions’ upset victory over OSU.
“Man, that was a great college football game and I loved it. I love Penn State. I have a few former teammates from Gilman going there, and I really like it there,” Franklin said.
This offseason, Franklin, who is currently playing basketball, plans to attend Syracuse’s junior day Jan. 14. After that, he’d like to check out UMD, PSU and UVA, while in the summer he’s trekking down to Florida to hit an array of Sunshine State programs.