Franklin has a leader

RUBIDOUX, Calif. -- Linebacker Darrian Franklin doesn't have a time frame for a commitment yet, but the four-star junior has no plans to wait until signing day as a potential midyear graduate.

Downey (Calif.) junior linebacker Darrian Franklin was one of the first players in the class of 2016 to obtain a scholarship offer from USC.

That scholarship offer came early last fall, and since then, schools from all over the country have stopped by Downey High School to see the 6-foot-2, 210-pound four-star perform.

“Coach (Peter) Sirmon has already been by our school and Coach (Johnny) Nansen was there last spring,” said Franklin. “Before going up there today I already knew they liked me a lot, but I don’t really get to talk to them when they visit.”

In late January, Franklin took his own trip to talk to the USC coaching staff for the Trojans’ Elite Junior Invite. 

“I really needed to just get down there to see what the coaches were talking about with where I would play and their vision for me,” said Franklin. “I know they wanted me as a outside linebacker, but I wanted to see what position they saw me specifically playing.

“Talking with Coach (Peter) Sirmon they really think I can play all over the field. It was just good to feel the love. I haven’t been down there for a little while, so it was good to just be around the coaches and talk with them - go to position meetings.

“I mean, I talk with the whole staff on Twitter all of the time. The coaches actually send me graphics and little things with my face and name on them. They talk about me being a USC Hall of Fame player and me graduating from USC.

“But it’s different talking with them in person. Spending time with them and asking them questions was big. Coach Sirmon likes me at the SAM linebacker spot because I can cover a lot of ground.”

Franklin boasts scholarship offers from Miami, Washington, Arizona State, UCLA, Michigan, Colorado and Utah. While college football fans know that January is a big month of official visits and in-home visits, it’s also an evaluation period for juniors.

“I just got a Colorado offer and Boise State’s whole coaching staff came by last week,” said Franklin. “Coach (Don) Pellum and Coach (Mark) Helfrich came by for Oregon and the LSU is supposed to be coming by next week or the week after.

“So a lot of schools are showing me love. I’ve been trying to get out to Michigan, and I’d like to visit LSU too. LSU is close to offering and Florida State is talking to me too. I think LSU will offer when they come out to see me.”

But holding scholarship offers from multiple schools for the better part of six months, Franklin is contemplating ending his recruitment early.

“I have talked with my parents about it,” said Franklin. “My plan is to graduate midyear and enroll early, so I do want to get things out of the way. I need to take my visits during the spring first.

“With USC, I love the environment and I can see myself playing there. It’s just about getting the feeling like, ‘This is where I want to be.’ That’s when you make that decision.”

A big part of Franklin’s interest in USC is also what the future holds for the Trojan football program. With commitments from Torrance (Calif.) linebacker Mique Juarez and Detroit (Mich.) linebacker Daelin Hayes, the Trojans 2016 class is already off to a very good start.

“I like what USC is doing,” said Franklin. “I see them improving and I like how they play their young guys. I’m happy with how they played last season and I see them being better this year.

“I have a good feel for the coaches and it’s close to home to my mom can come see my play. I like USC a lot. With Jabari Ruffin tat SC and everything, it’s like I have family there.”

With all of that said, Franklin has USC as his No. 1 college choice heading into the spring. However, there is one school he wants to see in the next few months that could change that.

“Yeah, it’s fair to say USC is my leader,” said Franklin. “I know so much about the school and I’m always up there. But do need to see something else.

“I really want to get out to see Michigan again with my dad pretty soon. I’ve been there once already, but I need to see it again. The new coaching staff called me like an hour after (Jim) Harbaugh got hired just to see how interested I was in them.

“Then they came down to see at my school me like the next day. I want to visit Michigan and then I’m trying to get out to see Florida State too.”

Franklin had a pretty good season last year. He finished his junior campaign with 88 tackles, with 17 of those for loses. He also had eight sacks and one interception.

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