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Those in East Palo Alto before Troy Franklin showed him the way.
There was Davante Adams. There was KeeSean Johnson. Both receivers embarked on remarkable careers at Fresno State – Johnson is Fresno State’s all-time leading receiver in receptions (275) and receiving yards (3,463), while Adams was a Mountain West Freshman of the Year and a First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection before becoming a second-round pick to the Green Bay Packers.
Today, both are in the National Football League and playing at the highest stage. Adams is the first player in league history to record 90-plus catches, 1,110-plus yards and 14 touchdowns in the first 13 games of a season, and Johnson has 259 career receiving yards with the Arizona Cardinals in two seasons.
Franklin, a senior receiver at Menlo-Atherton who is set to enroll at the University of Oregon in January and not play his senior year, which got pushed back in California, is ready to keep the tradition going.
“A lot. A lot,” Franklin said. “There’s a lot of guys. We’ve got like two guys in the league right now – Davante Adams and Keisean Johnson. I’m just trying to keep it going. Definitely got the city on my back right now.”
His first game of high school showed everything that was in store for the next great athlete from East Palo Alto.
As a freshman on varsity in the 2017 season opener, Franklin went bonkers. He brought in a team-high five catches for 105 yards in a 21-16 loss to Bellarmine.
“It showed me a lot,” Franklin said. “I was kind of nervous out there, but once I got my first jitters out with hat first catch and things like that, the sky is the limit for me.”
Once that game concluded, everything for Franklin skyrocketed.
The first offer came Franklin’s way three games into his freshman campaign from San Jose State. Then came Utah. Then came Hawaii. That was all during that first year of high school.
Just about everyone else offered Franklin following that. Alabama. LSU. Oklahoma. Texas. USC. Oregon.
But it was Oregon, a team he grew up idolizing while players like Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas rolled through the program, that won won the lottery for the blue chip prospect.
“They’ve just been my dream school for the longest,” Franklin said. “They have a good offense there, a good staff. They treat you like family. They’re just good people up there. They have a good offense, and I think I fit well up there.”
And Franklin, who committed to Oregon over a list of finalists that included Alabama, Arizona State and Washington, has dominated every step of the way at Menlo-Atherton.
In three years at one of the region’s top schools, Franklin accumulated 102 catches, 1,790 yards and 28 touchdowns, featuring a state championship as a sophomore in 2018.
Franklin is rated as the No. 2 commit – No. 36 overall nationally – in Oregon’s 2021 recruiting class in the 247 Sports rankings, a class that is No. 6 nationally and No. 1 in the All-American Bowl. He is also the second-best receiver recruit in the history of Oregon’s football program, according to 247, only behind that of former Bay Area sensation and De La Salle product Cameron Colvin, who was part of the 2004 class.
“I just think I had a lot of great guys behind me, a lot of great coaches,” Franklin said. “Of course, some of the talent and stuff by myself, but without these guys like Eric Washington, Ricky Williams, (former Menlo-Atherton) coach Adhir (Ravipati), I wouldn’t be half the player I am today.”
The soon-to-be Menlo-Atherton was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, named as one of two Bay Area players – alongside Napa tight end Brock Bowers – and four other Oregon commits to earn such a distinction.
“That was an honor,” Franklin said. “A lot of great guys play in that. I was just honored to be acknowledged, be getting an invite to play in it. Just do what I had to do. Unfortunately, it got canceled.”
In one month, Franklin will be off to Oregon – a program steeped in success over the last decade and one that has continued the tradition under head coach Mari Cristobal. Oregon captured a Rose Bowl victory last season and will play in the Pac-12 Championship game for a second consecutive season.
While a Duck, Franklin hopes to add on to the legacy and bring the school something it has never captured yet before on the football field, although it came close to a national championship when it was a runner-up with Mariota in 2014.
“Just to help my team win in whatever places I can,” Franklin said. “Of course, we want to get that natty and Pac-12 champions, all that stuff. But I just want to do whatever I can to help the team.”
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