Q&A: Zaire Franklin at ACC Media Days

Check out what Syracuse junior linebacker Zaire Franklin had to say at the 2016 ACC Kickoff.

Q. What can you say about the Tampa-2 so far, how this defense has recharged not only yourself, but the rest of the defense going forward for Syracuse?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: I think as a competitor and also someone who really loves the game, when you get an opportunity to learn not only like a new playbook, but a new philosophy, it helps broaden your understanding of the game, your appreciation for all the little nuances that makes the game great.

As far as learning a new defense, it's been fun and exciting for all of us to go out and learn new coverages, different type of schemes, different type of little things that will help make us great this fall.

Q. Being the anchor of a young defense, what is it like to mentor the younger guys and help them become better?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: I would say it's not just myself, but it's a lot of us. Myself, Antwan Cordy, Rodney Williams, Chris Slayton, guys who have been in the fire, played a lot of snaps, can help bring along a lot of the young guys that may not have as much experience.

Q. You were named captain your sophomore year. What did that mean to you?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: It meant the world to me, to be honest with you, to be selected by my coaches and my teammates to be given that type of honor and to be put in the forefront and be considered one of the leaders of the team. It meant a lot to me.

I think I care a great deal about the program, a great deal about where we are and about my teammates as well. Just to know that they look at me in that type of sense meant a lot to me.

Q. When you got that title, what did you do with it?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: Honestly, I feel like just because you get a C on your chest doesn't necessarily change who you're supposed to be. I feel like if you were a leader already, you were already doing certain type of things to try to bring other people along, lead by example.

Personally, once I was officially named as captain, I stepped up my role a lot. The things I were doing, whether it's meetings, talking a little bit more to certain type of players.

But at the same time I feel as though, you know, the fact they already look at you as a leader means you were doing the things you were supposed to do. You just keep doing that and do it to the best of your ability.

Q. Toward the end of the spring Dino said something along the lines of the success this fall will largely be dictated on what you do during the summer as players. What have summer workouts been like so far? How have you adapted the leadership role toward the summer workouts?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: It's been intense. Coach E, our strength coach, he's definitely had his foot on the gas all summer. Definitely pushing us to be the greatest we could be. I think as far as players, whether it's team workouts, any type of extra work, we make sure that we keep that intensity up at all times. Even when it's going on week seven and it's kind of getting old, just another day out there, we make sure we do different things to keep it fun, keep the intensity up, that way you keep it up, come to camp in the best possible shape we can be in.

Q. When you look at coming in, obviously having a different coach at the time, seeing sometimes there is turnover, the team held together and the guys held together, a lot of the leadership came back. What can you say about how the locker room decided you wanted to be a part of this journey and the belief in Dino moving forward?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: I think going through what we went through last year specifically with our coaches getting let go, I think you really realize, like, who really has your back. You really realize what family really means. You really realize what it means to actually come together as brothers, really have each other's back. You realize when you're at the bottom of the bottom who is really there for you.

When we got to that point, when Coach Dino came in, there was no other place to go but up. The only person that could help us get there was Coach Babers. We had no choice but to follow behind him and give him every opportunity to lead us to victory.

Q. Tremendous amount of returning offensive talent. 90% of the top offensive players are back in your division, two leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy. What is it like to be a defensive player in this league?

ZAIRE FRANKLIN: It's fun. I enjoy it. I love playing against top competition. One of the reasons I chose to come to Syracuse was to play in the ACC. The teams in our specific division are very, very talented. It's fun every week to go out and play against, as you say, guys that are Heisman contenders, on these different types of watch lists. It makes the game that much more fun.


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