What makes Franklin's challenge so daunting is that the team only carried four cornerbacks last season, and so he may be fighting for a spot that won't even exist. Gabe Franklin's former cornerbacks coach at Boise State, Marcel Yates, believes the Chargers would be a better team with Franklin on their roster.
"He was a four-year starter," Yates began. "He's a gamer. He's a durable, hardworking kid. He's a man-to-man guy, and he played injured."
The above seems to be a concise description of everything the Chargers are looking for in a cornerback. The only potential drawback is Franklin's diminutive stature; but even though he is slightly undersized at 5-foot-10 and 185 lbs., he plays with an aggressive and attacking style.
"He has no problem on an island," Yates said. "He's very competitive and hardworking."
While Franklin played primarily in man-to-man situations in college, which allowed his coaching staff to use his elite coverage skills to shut down the oppositions top receiver, he has the ability to play zone as well. This is important, as the Chargers utilize both defenses on a regular basis.
"He can go both ways now," said Yates of Franklin's ability to excel in either type of coverage scheme. "He's a very smart kid."
While Coach Yates was in no way reluctant to boast about his former pupil, Franklin's numerous accolades speak volumes of his collegiate dominance as well.
"Last season he was All-WAC first team, and he was second team in '02 and '03," according to Yates.
In Chargers camp, character is seemingly as important as productivity. This also explains why the Chargers brought Franklin into the fold, as he is the epitome of a high-character player.
"He's a quiet kid," allowed Yates. "But he is a leader by his play on the field. He comes from a good family, too."
Although Franklin's physical style of play and stellar character would make him seem like a lock to make the roster, his questionable size may be his downfall. However, that has been a limitation he has had to overcome his entire career, and up to this point his has exceeded every expectation with authority.
His 18 career interceptions are the most ever by a Boise State defender in the Division 1-A era. Also, he was among the nation's leaders in pass breakups last season.
Franklin put up the kind of numbers in college that should have gotten him drafted, but he wasn't. Now he is again up against the numbers, hoping to win the fifth cornerback spot and be kept on the active roster. The numbers game has dealt him an unfair hand before, perhaps now he will finally catch his break.
Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@SanDiegoSports.net
Yates on Gabe Franklin: "A gamer"
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