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Franklin, Hoag, Smith among top westside grid, athletic signings

Big city life and a team needing smaller, quicker, more athletic offensive linemen for its no-huddle offense — that’s what led T.J. Franklin to the University of Cincinnati.

“The town, it’s a big recruiting tool. I mean, it’s a big city, that’s what I was looking for,” said Franklin, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound Tennessee Mr. Football Finalist and two-time All-state lineman who helped lead Knoxville Catholic High School to a 45-5 career record as a four-year starter.

“I want to get out of the small-town environment.”

Franklin made his choice of the Big East Conference school (8-5 record in 2006) official during a signing ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the KCHS library.

“The coaching staff, they like to run no-huddle and that fits into my strengths real well,” he said. “I feel I’m a very conditioned athlete.”

As for conditioning by numbers, Franklin said he bench-presses 335 pounds, squats 455 and runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash.

Franklin said he expects to red-shirt his freshman year — something the 18-year-old welcomes “to get acclimated,” adding, “there’s a lot of difference between studying for high school classes and studying for college classes.”

Catholic head coach Mark Pemberton labels Franklin “an athletic kid, he’s very intelligent. I really think Cincinnati’s getting a steal. ... He’s been a cornerstone of our program. ... He’s got a really good work ethic.”

Saying that Cincinnati’s upset of eventual top-10 nationally-ranked Rutgers was “the first game I got to watch,” Franklin added the UC home partisans provided “an electric atmosphere.”


Alongside Franklin at the Feb. 7 singing was KCHS teammate Harrison Smith, as the 2006 Class 3A Mr. Football in Tennessee as an All-state runningback/defensive back signed with Notre Dame.

Farragut standout lineman Michael Hoag, Region 2-5A Lineman of the Year in 2006, signed with Wake Forest Feb. 7 at FHS.

Among westside non-football signees last week were FHS boys soccer All-state forwards Jake Russell (Richmond) and Ben Backstrom (Western Kentucky), and FHS girls standout soccer defender Emily Harris (Middle Tennessee State).


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