With his junior year coming to a close, Ja'mion Franklin has decided to also bring his recruitment to an end.
Originally set to announce his college destination on July 1, the 6-foot-3, 306-pound defensive tackle from Ridgely, Md., has decided to move his decision date to early next week.
Irish Illustrated caught up with North Caroline head coach James McCormick on the looming decision, with Notre Dame, Duke and Virginia the main players.
“I know Ja’mion is going to make an announcement next Tuesday (June 6),” McCormick said. “He moved it up. I’m not sure of the time yet, but he might want to do it at 12 o’clock, to announce his intentions.”
McCormick has helped steer his star defensive tackle through his recruiting process, traveling to college campuses with him and speaking to various coaches.
However, in the end, the decision is Franklin’s to make.
“He’s definitely in charge of his recruiting, he knows what he wants,” McCormick said. “He’s very comfortable in talking about himself, not in a pompous way, but talking about himself with adults and what’s going on and what his goals are. As far as that’s concerned, he’s very mature.”
Once Franklin announces his decision, his recruitment will be officially closed.
“That’s something that we’ve talked about all along,” McCormick said. “Don’t make the commitment until you’re 100 percent positive and comfortable with it and then once you make it, you’re done.”
McCormick grew up on Notre Dame football. But Franklin went into his recruitment with little knowledge of the Irish.
“He liked it when he was out there,” McCormick said. “I grew up a Notre Dame fan. I understand what Notre Dame’s about. I understand what the gold helmet means and all that. When we went out there, Ja’mion understood Notre Dame is a top of the line football program. You’re on national television every week, those types of things. I don’t think he really grasped the concept until he was out there on campus.
“The first day we were out there, it was setting into him. The second day, when we went up on campus, I think the light finally came on. OK, this is Notre Dame. This is different. It’s not the same as other places. I think that made an impression with him.”
Franklin first caught McCormick’s eye early in grade school as he stood out among his classmates.
“My wife was his elementary school teacher,” McCormick said. “When he was in second or third grade, he was always two-feet taller than everybody else, just this huge kid. I was like, ‘who the hell is that?’ She told me, then they ran the 40-yard dash and he finished first. Here’s this kid that’s huge, bigger than everybody and the fastest kid in the class. I said, ‘OK, we better find out who that is and keep an eye on him.’
“He came to us as a freshman. We were really excited to get him here with us. He started for us a freshman on varsity. You know, big, strong, athletic kid, a little bit raw, but you could definitely tell he was going to be special.”
Coach Mike Elko has discussed what Franklin’s role would be within the Irish defense.
“Talking to coach Elko, I said, “what are you guys recruiting him as?’ McCormick said. “He said, “Coach, we’re recruiting him as a (defensive) lineman. The kid can play. We don’t put our (defensive) lineman in one spot. We have them move, we want them to penetrate and cause problems and Ja’mion does a very good job of that.’
“He could be a one-technique, he could be a three-technique, wherever he fits and they feel comfortable with. The more people get exposed to him, the more they can see he’s one of those guys who can do some things for you. He’s not just one-dimensional.”
Franklin has done his homework on the Irish.
On Tuesday, he’ll make his college decision and stick with it.
“He’s ready,” McCormick said. “We’ve talked a lot about this next step and how to make it, when to make it and all of that stuff and he’s going to announce it on Tuesday.”