Lions land playmaker from Virginia

By Philip Cmor

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

Early last season, the Battlefield High School football team in Haymarket, Va. experienced some injuries in the defensive trenches.

Bobcats coach Jared Van Acker made an unconvential move, taking 6-foot-2, 196-pound cornerback Brailyn Franklin and putting him at nose tackle. Franklin made Van Acker look like a genius, garnering second-team all-state honors on a team that made a Class 6A playoff run and finished 9-3.

“It’s kind of like the old saying ‘get my playmakers the ball, let him make plays.’ He’s one of those guys we can do wildcat with him, some receiver. He’s really embraced the defensive side of the ball,” Van Acker said in an interview with VirginiaPreps.com. “Eighteen sacks in eight games. Pretty explosive. Fast twitch. It’s tough to block him one on one.”

Franklin will be playing another position in college: Penn State pursued him as an outside linebacker, and the consensus three-star prospect became the 13th member of the Nittany Lions’ 2017 recruiting class on Tuesday morning when he went public with his verbal commitment.

“I’m humbled by the 10 schools that recruited me,” Franklin wrote on Twitter along with three Bible verses. “To the coaches, staff and playersthanks for pouring into me your time and talents. .But that being said, today, I am blessed to say that I am committed 100% and my parents are passing the torch to Coach (James) Franklin along with Coach (Brent) Pry to Penn State University.”

Virginia Tech, Maryland, Syracuse and Temple comprised the rest of Brailyn Franklin’s final five. Cincinnati, Purdue, Kansas and Marshall were among the other school’s to offer him.

The fifth prospect to commit to the Lions in the last two weeks, Franklin figures to add to Penn State’s athleticism and versatility on defense. In addition to his sacks, he recorded 15 other tackles for loss.

Franklin, who moved to Virginia from Arlington, Texas, early in 2015, has competed in the the 200 meters and 300 hurdles, long jumped and thrown the shot and discus in track. He also has run cross country and wrestles.

His biggest success, though, has been reserved for the gridiron. In a state playoff win against Hayfield last fall, Franklin recorded four sacks and forced a fumble, which he recovered.

“Franklin is a long, athletic playmaker on defense,” Scout.com wrote of him. “He has an explosive first step and does nice job using his hands to disengage from defenders. Franklin shows good anticipation and plays fast. He also runs extremely well and closes quickly on the football. He needs to continue to get stronger and add weight to his frame, but he has big upside and the potential to become a dynamic defensive player at the next level.”

Penn State has built a strong relationship over the last few months with Franklin, who made visits to University Park in March, May and again in July for the Lasch Bash. The Nittany Lions thought enough of him to offer a scholarship in June, even though they still are considered to be in the thick of things with other highly-regarded prep linebackers like Nathan Proctor and Jordan Anthony.

Linebackers Dylan Rivers and Brelin Faison-Walden has previously committed to Penn State.

“I chose Penn State because of the academics and because my family loves it as much as I do. And I have a strong bond with Coach Pry and Coach Franklin,” Brailyn Franklin said.

The Lions’ recent run of recruits might not be quite done yet, either. Sean Fitz of Lions247.com reported on Tuesday that mammoth Cardinal O’Hara offensive tackle Desmond Holmes was planning to make a trip to Penn State and Pitt this weekend. Holmes, who just got a scholarship offer from the Lions last week, is expected to want to announce his choice before the season, and Penn State is the perceived leader over Pitt, Maryland, Syracuse, Temple and Central Florida.