For an exclusive interview with rookie lineman Noah Franklin, click here.
After spending the bulk of his OSU career as a reserve, Noah Franklin made first string last season and started 13 games at left guard. He helped the Cowboys lead the Big 12 Conference with an average of 187.8 rushing yards per game. He went undrafted before signing with the Carolina Panthers, hoping to hop from one dominant running team to another.
For more on Franklin, we check in with OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
LaShana Marshburn: Tell us about your experience with Noah.
Joe Wickline: When I first got here, Coach [Mike Gundy] had just taken the head-coaching job and hired me from the University of Florida. Noah is an OSU person. His mom and dad went to Oklahoma State, but he had de-committed, basically, and was getting recruited by Arkansas and some other schools. It was five years ago, now. We re-recruited him and swung him back. He signed with the Cowboys and since then he's been a solid player. Obviously, this year was a great year for him. He was a great kid and did a nice job in school. He got all his academics straight and was a very powerful young man. He did a nice job of adjusting to the Big 12 and the BCS bowl games and ended up being a really good football player and a great leader.
LM: Noah was recruited out of high school as a defensive lineman. What prompted his switch to the offensive side of the ball?
JW: What happened, ultimately, was when he got here he was an all-star his senior year at [Vinita HS]. He played on the defensive line there and he couldn't be blocked. He was recruited by our defensive guys before he came here, but when he arrived I'm saying, "Wait a minute now, I mean gee whiz, he's an offensive lineman!" He played some defense for us and did a nice job there, but ultimately we moved him to offense because it showed that his home place was a really good offensive lineman.
LM: Noah enjoyed his best season last year, as he emerged as a full-time starter. What happened that allowed him to put it all together?
JW: He was a senior and he had been here for a while. Plus, there were two other reasons for his success. Firstly, he bought into OSU because that's his heritage. His mom and dad went to school here and he's from Oklahoma and had kind of been a Cowboy for a long time. Secondly, he had been here since Coach Gundy had taken over and had seen the ups and downs with the new staff. He did a really nice job in terms of leadership and commitment and buying into, "Hey, this is my last year and I want to have my best year." Ultimately, we did some good things on the offensive line in terms of rushing the ball and protecting the QB. He was a big part of that.
LM: Where does he need to show the most improvement in order to have an impact in Carolina?
JW: I know the things that gave him some problems when he first got here, he got those ironed out last season and just kept getting better and better. The run blocking schemes were probably the main thing. He was misled at first with the drop-man protection stuff, but we were in a really tough conference and each week he had to rise to the occasion and find a way to get it done. Ultimately, I don't know how many sacks he allowed, but it couldn't have been many. He took care of his business, but he'll need to work on holding back some of his aggressiveness and start doing some things from a finesse standpoint.
Can Franklin climb the ladder in Carolina? Discuss inside the message boards.
Coach's Corner: Joe Wickline on Noah Franklin
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