It isn't often that the commitment of a kicker is seen as a big deal when he signs his letter of intent.
At NC State, however, the situation is different. Senior John Deraney has handled all of the kicking duties in Raleigh for the past two seasons and could again as a senior. He has handled kickoff duties since the 2003 season. The departure of a special teams player of such importance can have ill-effects on a program many fans do not foresee. The NC State coaching staff was on top of the situation.
"The coaches were excited when I committed and every time I've talked to them they've made it known that they're glad I'm coming," said Class of 2006 kicker commit Nathan Franklin.
"They told me to come in prepared to see the field. They basically told me right from the beginning that I should be prepared to do anything they need me to do – kickoffs, PATs, field goals or punting. John (Deraney) has handled all that stuff for a while there, but they told me there's a chance I could help him out at times. Then again, I might redshirt. It's up in the air right now and it will depend on what I do in practice."
The 5-11, 160-pound product of Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC proved himself to be capable in all those areas in recent years. As a senior Franklin was 7-of-10 on field goals with a long of 47 yards. His career long is 52 yards. He also averaged 39 yards per punt, and 90% of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.
"I'm going to get up to State on July 2 for the second summer session at school," he said. "I'm not sure who I'm going to be living with or exactly what things are going to look like once I get there. My goals are to just compete in practice and start my college career off with a good GPA. I want to get off to a good start in my classes so that won't become a problem later on."
Franklin carried a 3.2 GPA at Hoggard High School and didn't have trouble qualifying. His strong leg isn't the only thing that should have NC State fans excited.
"I feel like I thrive under pressure. Obviously you don't want to do anything that's going to let the team down, but you can't dwell on that when you've got a big kick. I'm confident in what I can do and I always look forward to helping the team out.
"I see good things ahead for NC State football. Some people don't think the team is going to do great this year, but I think we're going to do pretty well. I think 2006 is going to be a really good season."