Name: Zaire Franklin
Position: Middle linebacker
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
High School: La Salle
2014 Stats: The true freshman had 44 tackles, five for a loss and two sacks. He's the leading returning tackler for the Orange, which says about as much about Franklin's early success as it does about how much Syracuse lost on defense.
2015 Projections: Franklin is projected to be the starting middle linebacker for the Orange who won't have Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis manning the middle of the field anymore. Syracuse lost eight defensive starters and, by some measures, have one of the biggest rebuilds on that side of the ball in school history. So the Orange are looking for the sophomore to become a leader in the front seven. He was chosen with Terrel Hunt to be one of SU's representatives at ACC Media Day next week. But with all of the turnover on defense, Franklin's ascension will be a more of a necessity than a luxury.
How'd He Get Here: He had eight other offers, most notably from Arizona, Connecticut and Pittsburgh. Franklin had the eighth highest grade by ESPN out of 25 recruits in Syracuse's Class of 2014.
What'd Recruiting Sites Say: Scout - 3*, Rivals - 3*, 247 - 3*, ESPN - 3*
Money Quote: "Every one wants to tell you they have a family atmosphere. At the end of the day, only a very, very few preach that and Coach Shafer is a great guy and Coach Lea and Coach Bullough and Coach Daoust, they really believe in family."
Links of Wonder: Freshman Franklin gives glimpse into the future with strong showing in loss to N.C. State
Tweets of Wonder:
Life changing thoughts only come to you after 1 am— Zaire (@ZiggySmalls_) May 28, 2015
What Does Scott Shafer Think of Him: "When you're playing the middle in a 4-3 defense, that middle linebacker does a lot of checking, adjusting, setting the front, adjusting the front, and he did a very good job in that realm as well. I think we have a very good freshman football player in Zaire and his use will continue to upgrade as we move into this next game."
Interesting Nugget O'Interest: (Via Syracuse.com) "Franklin said he's big on community service, spearheading efforts to donate clothing around the holidays and organizing soup kitchens."
Let's Get A Good Look Atcha: