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Syracuse’s Zaire Franklin is over going to ACC Football Kickoff

Apparently Charlotte’s not THAT fun.

NCAA Football: ACC Football Kickoff Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Zaire Franklin was one of the Syracuse Orange’s two player representatives at this year’s ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte this week. But it’s far from his first go-around at the conference media days. Now in his third consecutive season, he’s been through this a few times before. And while he was a willing and congenial participant in the whole thing, he’s also sort of (rightfully) over it, as he indicated during his media availability.

But that’s just one of many quotes he provided. We run down everything from Zaire below:

What it means to represent Syracuse three straight seasons at the event:

“It's an honor. I take a great deal of pride in it, honestly, that my coaches feel that way and the program honestly just gave me that responsibility to be represented and be considered an ambassador of the program for three straight years. I'm not going to lie, it's not too fun the third time around, but I do it for Syracuse.”

That’s not too different from the feelings I expressed after rewatching Orange football games from 2013 through 2015.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Have to talk about the Pittsburgh game...

“You know, speaking of the last game of the year, like you said, it's not one of the easiest games to watch, but it's one that we critique the most. I think when you look at that Pitt game, it really just came down to making plays. I think that when we look back on it, it just makes us want to be more of playmakers and more difference makers on the field.

And it's definitely helped motivate our team to get more in the film room, get more in the weight room, and get back out on the field to be able to put a better product on the field, because the last thing you want to be thought of is the team that gave up 76 points. You're only as good as your last outing, so we're ready to get back out there and show the world that's not who we are.”

If SU’s defense came anywhere close to resembling that team in this season’s opener vs. Central Connecticut, I might have a coronary. There’s probably far more to that Pitt loss than just making plays — and that goes for both teams, which simply let the opposing offenses waltz up and down the field -- but it does seem like they’re learning from that disaster, which is good.

How’s the defense in year two vs. year one under Dino Babers?

“A year or two under the same staff is definitely a major transition. Nothing comes as a surprise anymore. We are very comfortable, not only with the coaches, but also with the strength and conditioning staff, whether it's all the summer workouts and all the -- schemes-wise, we're a lot more comfortable and ready to attack it, rather than just having things thrown at us and having to adjust.

Now under year two, under Coach Babers, we're ready to get into camp and find out what kind of team we're going to be.”

NCAA Football: ACC Football Kickoff Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Tell us about the new guys, since Dino won’t.

“Oh, we have a couple of really talented freshmen. One is a receiver named Nykeim (Johnson). He's from D.C. He's extremely fast, extremely talented, strong hands, hungry, works really hard, you know. Got a couple of grad transfers coming in, corner, Devin Butler, as well as one that just came from Toledo (Jordan Martin).

We're just really excited about all the guys we've got coming in. All the guys that came in, whether grad transfer or freshman, came in with the attitude of keeping their head down and being ready to work, and that's all you can really ask from those guys. They've already been accepted to the team as family, and like I said, we're just ready to get into the fall.”

Hearing Nykeim’s name called out this early is a very good sign for the program and him, too. He’s one of a few freshman wideouts that could find their way onto the field this season.


“Respect is something that has to be earned, and we're not -- we're no stranger to that fact. Coming to Media Day for the third year in a row, the first thing you understand, and everybody I came with, they've always noticed -- is I guess you can necessarily -- you can see kind of the pecking order in a sense, and I think there's no more motivation than seeing that with your own two eyes.

So I think it's just our job to make sure that next time I come in this room that everybody is in here.”

This was admittedly a bit puzzling that no one was really around for the Syracuse portion of things. Dino’s pretty candid, and Zaire and Dungey are both all-conference (third-team) caliber players. Figured that would count for something.

Anyway, lucky for Zaire, he never has to attend again, unless Syracuse makes the ACC Championship Game or one day, he’s the coach of the Orange.