One of the top recruits in the midlands region, Stephen Franklin is starting to pick up offers and hit the radar screens of numerous programs and Kansas State and Coach Morris have been there from the very beginning.
"Kansas State was the first team to offer Stephen. He was at Missouri' junior day and he was invited to Kansas' junior day and did not make it, he will be going down there tomorrow for an unofficial visit because he did not make it to Kansas. K-State was the first to offer him though and I know that he was extremely excited when they did offer. He was a little surprised and happy that K-State offered him and I think that is something that was important to him and means something to him. Coach Morris is recruiting Stephen and they keep in contact with Stephen and let him know that they want him down there," Head Coach Chad Valadez told KStateFans.
A prospect who is just now starting to garner the attention and scholarship offers from schools throughout the Big 12, most did not know of Stephen as recently as last season.
"Well I am not sure a lot of schools knew about Stephen to start. I sent out some tape of Jayson (Palmgren) and from what I have heard, some teams saw Stephen. I know I sent out a tape to Kansas State with Jayson, this was before the coaching change but Coach Morris picked up his recruitment and he told me that he wanted both Jayson and Stephen. K-State was really the first team to offer Stephen and I think now other teams are seeing what they saw and looking at him and know what a great athlete he is and he is starting to gain more and more attention," said Coach Valadez.
A big target that is known for his athleticism, Franklin was a do it all player for North Kansas City this past season.
"Stephan's role for us is going to be quite a bit different for us this year then it was last season. Last season we pretty much used him all over the field. He played a little Tight End for us, we would split him out a little bit at receiver, he played some fullback for u, played very minimal for us at tailback and then played outside and inside linebacker for us. We used him all over the field and at a bunch of different spots for us and that was really his first year of playing football as a starter. He was a team captain for us."
With great size and speed, Coach Valadez says that they will be looking to create mismatches this season and attempting to get the ball is Stephen's hands as much as possible.
"Next year, we are going to feature him a little more and put him at the single back position. When we get in a single back set we will be able to do the same things you do out of the I (I formation). We are principally an I team and he has the tools to run the veer option and try and do some things that are quick hitting where we can get him the ball. He has the size of a fullback back there and can move pretty well back there and has the power we need to do so quick hitting things and then letting him go. "
"He is powerful runner, he is about 6-3" and will be 215 pounds by the start of the season. He has great leg drive and is a very physical runner so we are going to take advantage of that. We are going to also have him motion to receiver and create mismatches with his height and speed. We want him out on safeties and corners."
A blue chip prospect because of his abilities on the football field, Coach Valadez says Stephen's best attributes may not be his athleticism or physical prowess on the gridiron.
"Besides his athleticism, I mean he is 6-3", 215 pounds and runs a solid 4.6, you know he is great in space, very good control of his body, great feet and balance and very powerful. But the thing probably that is the best about him and it is not sexy and I am not sure you can measure it but his attitude and his work ethic. The way that his teammates respond to him is probably for us, the best thing he brings to the table and I do not think that is measurable. He is one of those kids that backs up everything he does with his work ethic. He is not going to talk a lot or be a rah-rah guy. He just goes out there and busts his tail and brings everyone up to his level. He makes everyone around him better and with all the attention he is getting now; I think that is going to just continue now."
A player that will play both sides of the ball this season, with room to grow a little more, Franklin could play numerous positions at the college level.
"I think he could easily still grow he just has that frame. He could kick it up to 6-foot-4 or more and then take the weight up too and then everyone will be looking at him at maybe defensive end or possibly inside linebacker with his speed. I think we could be a pretty good H-Back/Tight End guy that you move around and find mismatches with that can both catch and run. He is physical enough to block at the point of attack and then can run it and I think he would be a great Tight End."