The Fizz caught up with Philadelphia ILB Zaire Franklin and he’s excited to make his way up to Syracuse in the ’14 class. Franklin pledged SU about two weeks ago now. As each SU recruit gets plucked, the players’ commitments go hand in hand with one another and a family has started to form. Through the power of social media this class is rapidly unifying via retweets and multiple mentions between Orange Nation and the players themselves.
QB commit AJ Long has helped ignite this Twitter frenzy, and has gotten some help from Franklin. The 3-star LB was a victim of Long’s Twitter powers, and has jumped on the bandwagon:
“Before I committed, he did one to me and KJ. To be honest, I probably had Syracuse as my favorite a month before I committed. But before I had Syracuse up there, add all the love on Twitter and some of the fans are hilarious. AJ and I reach out to guys all the time. I go after guys in Jersey, PA, and Maryland. The talks between AJ and I are a couple of times a week. After we’ve talked with a player, and one of us thinks we have a good chance at him, we tell each other to get fans to go blow up his Twitter page.”
This is just remarkable. The multitude of ways Twitter can be used on the recruiting front is huge. Perhaps high school recruiting has entered a completely new art form. Long is pushing for his cousin KJ Williams to go Orange, the battle has narrowed down to Syracuse and Michigan. Nassau OL Chad Mavety could land on the Hill by way of the Twitter as well. As for Franklin, the Twitter attention served as the cherry on top to his Orange decision. He’s felt welcomed and respected by the Syracuse fan base without even playing a down yet. As gifted as a player he is, Zaire says his sport of choice was actually a low priority when choosing SU:
“Football was actually one of the last things that had to do with my decision. Football is the easy part. It’s easy to decide what conference you want to play in or what defensive schemes are good. The real decision was whether I wanted to school there, and Syracuse was the one for me.”
Prioritizing school over sport is something we rarely see with high school students. At the end of the day, Franklin understands you’re committing to a school and not a team. His maturity as a high school junior is eye-popping and deserves a lot of respect. Even with the SU coaching staff, Zaire has been able to have regular conversation. He’s pumped to get to call these guys his coaches and get to work with them more closely:
“The coach I’ve probably talked to most is Coach Lea, the linebackers coach. He’s a great dude. We could talk on the phone anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. Literally not even half of it would be about football, anything from things going on with or things about Syracuse, even his life’s travels and things he’s been going through. Coach Shafer’s my man. I love Coach Shafer. He’s hilarious. Every time I talk to him he’s telling me how when someone (an opposing team) comes to the Dome, we’re going to kick their ass. The coaches overall are just great.”
The excitement that’s built from this up and coming class starts with the coaching staff. Franklin says he loves OC George McDonald. Obviously players slowly start from the bottom up with particular coaches who have recruited them, but most of the staff has got in on individual recruits. Zaire understands SU may not be competing in the most powerful football conference next season, but is aware of the opportunity:
“Let’s be honest, the SEC is probably the best conference in the country, but other than that there’s no other conference that is better than the ACC. I mean from top to bottom, now with Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The ACC is also very dedicated to academics. Look at North Carolina and Virginia. Also playing in the ACC you get to play Florida State, Clemson, and Miami.”
When you’re slated to play the best, you have to play your best. Franklin intends to make an immediate impact as part of the linebacking core in ’14. He says it doesn’t matter how much experience one has over the other, it’s about getting out there and proving himself.
“At the end of the day, it’s either you’re good or you’re not. The best players play. I feel like most coaches have that mentality. Sophomores and freshmen are killing it because they’re the better players. I’m not afraid of competition because if you’re good enough and put in the hard work, you’ll get the recognition that you deserve and everything will turn out for the best. If I start out as a role player, it’s not the end of the world.”
Franklin could have another young linebacker by his side in Colton Moskal, who committed to SU this weekend. Turns out, Zaire and Colton envisioned a SU bond:
“I was actually trying to get Colton to commit before me. I met him at the spring game. He’s a very good player. He got some big time offers, but we always kept in contact about Syracuse being at the top. It felt good to know I have someone I know already in the linebacker core. It means a lot to me.”
Franklin and Moskal begin the list of defensive players devoted to Syracuse. Judging by his mindset and will to succeed in everything he does, Zaire has a bright future.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen