Last week against Rice (yeah, I know) UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin increased his draft stock significantly when he rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Reportedly, he runs in the mid-4.4 range and has decent but not spectacular size at 5’10” 198 pounds. Franklin has been a significant contributor for the UCLA offense over the last three years, rushing for over 1,000 yards back in 2010. He’s averaged over five yards per carry each of the last couple of seasons, and his huge performance last Saturday has set the stage for a big game on Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
I have not heard yet whether or not Rex Burkhead will play for Nebraska after leaving last week’s game early with an injury, but I think UCLA has more than a chance in this game, especially being the home team. Nebraska is clearly the better squad, but they definitely had some things to tighten up defensively last week against Southern Mississippi, and it looks like UCLA has an upstart offense, led by Franklin and freshman dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley.
Franklin was considered a later round prospect going into this season, and with a big performance against Nebraska on the national stage, he could vault himself to mid-round status. We’ve seen some of the best backs in college football go way later than their college production indicated (see: Isaiah Pead) but Franklin could be a guy to watch, especially if he looks anything like he did last Saturday.