UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin (Dorsey High School) leads the nation in rushing, is in the Heisman race, and is second all time on UCLA’s rushing list. He could pass Gaston Green for the top spot this week at the Rose Bowl against Oregon State. Photo by Jason Lewis
Former Dorsey High School star running back could find himself in New York after the end of the regular season for a chance at the Heisman Trophy.
The UCLA Bruins owe much of their offensive success to senior running back Johnathan Franklin, who put together two back-to-back 200+ yard rushing efforts to open the season, and another 110 yards this past Saturday against Houston. Through three games he leads the nation in rushing.
Franklin dominated Rice with 214 yards and against Nebraska he put up 217 yards. His spectacular plays has put him in the Heisman conversation. The Bruins have a great opportunity to launch a Heisman campaign on and off the field for.
Franklin is also climbing UCLA’s all time leading rusher ladder, as he eclipsed 3,100 yards this past Saturday night. He is now second on UCLA’s all time rushing list, and he will have an opportunity to surpass Gaston Green this coming Saturday.
Gary Beban is UCLA’s only Heisman winner, having earned the award in 1967. Troy Aikman (1988) and Cade McNown (1998) finished third. The last UCLA player to receive a vote was quarterback Drew Olson, who finished eighth in 2005.
The Heisman buzz has always come from the other side of town in Los Angeles. In 2005, even though UCLA running back Maurice Jones-Drew had more touchdowns than USC running back Reggie Bush, the Heisman went to Bush, an award he eventually returned.
A lot of work will have to be done by Franklin and the Bruins to put him in consideration to be invited to New York in December. UCLA must continue to win games and make their way to the PAC-12 Championship Game out of the southern division.
Off the field UCLA’s administration must step up their efforts in order for Franklin to gain national interest for voting. Head coach Jim Mora is quoted as saying” there is so much that goes into it in terms of hype and marketing, getting on the cover of national magazines, playing on national television. You set yourself up the year before for what happens in your Heisman Trophy campaign. It’s hard to catch up.”
From the administrative side UCLA spokesman Nick Ammazzalorso said, “clearly Jonathan Franklin distinguished himself in the first two weeks of the 2012 college football season, if we as a department determine there’s a desire to launch a campaign on his behalf, we will do so at the appropriate time.”
With USC’s loss at Stanford and quarterback Matt Barkley’s poor performance in the game, the Heisman campaign that may make more sense right now in Los Angeles is coming out of UCLA.
The Billboards may not be immediate but rest assured the close door meeting is going on in Westwood deciding how much money should be spent for Franklin’s campaign. UCLA spent $200,000 in 2000 for McNown
Heismanpundit.com, the authority on ranking the Heisman watch list, recently listed Franklin as a player to watch. This is the first real sign that Franklin has a shot at a Heisman nod.
UCLA’s next opponent is Oregon State this weekend to kick of their PAC-12 schedule. Oregon State did shut down previous Heisman candidate Montee Ball of Wisconsin and knocked them out of the rankings. They held Ball to only 61 yards rushing in a 10-7 victory.