Franco transferring from Akron to IUP

Former Tyrone Area High School football standout Steve Franco, who quarterbacked the Golden Eagles to the PIAA Class AA state championship game in 2011, is transferring from Akron University to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Franco, the Mirror’s Football Player of the Year for the 2011 season and the paper’s 2012 Athlete of the Year, had redshirted at Division I Akron last fall, but believes that IUP will be a better fit for his football future.

Akron coach Terry Bowden and his staff, who did not recruit Franco, apparently did not see the former Tyrone star being an integral part of the Zips’ plans for the upcoming season, Franco said.

“They liked my athletic ability, and they liked the way that I run, but they wanted to go in a different direction,” he said. “That kind of made my decision for me.”

Franco’s decision was to leave Akron for IUP, an NCAA Division II football power for which he will compete for the starting quarterback job this fall. Franco’s older brother, Johnny, who was a three-year starter at safety for the Crimson Hawks, graduated this past spring.

“It’s a good feeling to be going to a program with such great tradition,” Steve Franco said of IUP. “My brother had been playing there, and I got to be a fan of that program for the last three years. They came within a touchdown last year of making the Final Four in the NCAA Division II playoffs.”

Franco, who will have four years of football eligibility remaining at IUP, will be in competition for the Crimson Hawks’ starting quarterback position with incumbent Mike Box, who will be a senior.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Franco said of Box. “But they want me to come in there and compete for the starting job and to see what I can do.”

Franco and Box will be under the direction of IUP’s first-year QB coach, Tyler Haines, who took over the job this past spring.

Haines has seen game film of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Franco from his Tyrone playing days, and is impressed with his ability.

“He’s very athletic,” Haines said. “Looking at his high school films, he can move in the pocket well, run well, and throw the ball well. He’s multi-dimensional. He’s also an extremely hard worker who will do anything that you ask him to do.”

And Franco is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his football career at IUP.

“It’s exciting to be playing for a great program that knows how to win,” he said. “I knew when I was transferring, that [IUP] was a place where I wanted to go. I have no regrets.”