On December 3rd 2019, the Ottawa Redblacks announced the signing of 13 different players. On that list was Jarvion Franklin, who; if you look at his background stands out from the others. Franklin grew up a football star in Tinley Park, Illinois and later went to school at the University of Western Michigan.
At Western Michigan, Franklin lit it up on all cylinders. In just his first game as a Bronco, Jarvion Franklin put up 168 scrimmage yards along with 3 rushing touchdowns. For Franklin, this game was not just a coincidence or lucky event as he did the same for the rest of the season. Following the season opener, Western Michigan kept feeding him the ball, getting 3 rushing touchdowns again in the following two games and rushed for 1,551 yards as a freshman.
Along with the yardage he put up, the nine touchdowns he scored within the first three games helped him out in getting to 24 touchdowns to close the season. The 24 touchdowns he scored on the ground handed him the record for most touchdowns as a Bronco in a single season.
The 1,551 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns he scored as a freshman gave him the role as the starting running back that Broncos fans fell in love with for the following 3 seasons where he totaled for another 3,300 plus rush yards and nearly 30 additional touchdowns.
With these totals, Franklin finished his University career with 5,537 all-purpose yards and 56 touchdowns from scrimmage. In conclusion, these numbers can be compared to many all-pros such as Bo Jackson’s 4,303 rush yards and 42 touchdowns he scored at Auburn or even Barry Sanders’ 3,556 yards and 49 touchdowns scored at Oklahoma State University. When looking at these numbers side by side, there’s no reason not to question why Franklin didn’t go as far as the ones in company of him.
Jarvion Franklin, who went undrafted following the 2018 NFL draft had a pre-season stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although it didn’t last, he still got playing time in the 4 games. With the four games he played in the pre-season, Franklin ran the ball 8 times for just 10 yards but got a touchdown to put on the records. Unfortunatley for Franklin, the 10 yards and a touchdown didn’t give the Steelers enough reason to keep him around and they later waived him to go unsigned by anyone but the Ottawa Redblacks this year.
After going one full NFL and CFL season unsigned, Franklin kept working hard and finally found himself on the roster of the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. Since his signing, I was lucky enough to reach out and talk to Jarvion about his past and what’s to come here in Ottawa. Capture our conversation below…
One on one with Jarvion Franklin
Zlomislic: The contract you were offered this month was the first you’ve received in a long while. What was your initial reaction of the signing?
Franklin: “My reaction was all excitement! I started getting that feeling in my stomach that I haven’t gotten in a while knowing that there’s competition around the corner. It finally gives me a reason to prepare, and everything happens for a reason so to get another great opportunity, to play for a great team, I’m excited to get to know the people there and I’m really excited to get started.”
Zlomislic: Prior to being signed, had you heard about the Redblacks?
Franklin: “Yes I had! I found myself watching some CFL this past year and I follow the Toronto running back James Wilder on instagram and I know he’s been tearing it up so I’m excited to do the same with the Redblacks.”
Zlomislic: After being signed by Ottawa, who was the first person you contacted?
Franklin: “After I was signed, I called my girlfriend because I was shocked. I was like wow, this is amazing. This was what I was waiting for so we decided on a few things and I’m ready to show Ottawa what I’m all about”
Zlomislic: Before being able to call yourself a professional, you had a career at WMU where you played some big games. What would be your favorite memory as a Bronco?
Franklin: “The great games, and the stats I put up at Western Michigan are all great and I’m forever grateful to have that behind me, but the best memory I have is winning the MAC championship in 2016. Going down to Detroit and playing at Ford Field, we played our tails off against Ohio University. The win really put the stamp on the group we had that year. We had a really competitive league and for us to push through and win it was awesome for us.”
Zlomislic: In that time at University, you played with 4 different groups of players. Who would be the most interesting player you played with?
Franklin: “The most interesting player I played with at University would have to be my mentor that I was set up with the first day of practices. Taylor Moton was set to lead me around and I personally believe he’s up there to be one of the most interesting players out there. He was an absolute beast and that’s a reason why he’s with the Carolina Panthers now. Taylor and I bonded a lot at University, he was an offensive lineman while I was his running back, and he was a great guy and a comedian as I got to know him.”
Zlomislic: To put up the numbers you had at Western Michigan and pretty much get forgotten by NFL teams other than a stint with Pittsburgh, what kept you working and striving for your dream?
Franklin: “A lot of things kept me going. I think this past year, I faced the most adversity yet in my life but in the time I’ve spent out of football, I learnt that change doesn’t come when you do nothing, change only comes when you work and fight past adversity and that’s something I have been doing for the last while and with this opportunity from the Redblacks I’m more than excited to have this happen.”
Zlomislic: This contract is no ordinary CFL contract, its to play in the capital of Canada, have you been north of the border before?
Franklin: “I have not. I’ve never officially crossed the border and breathe in the Canadian air, but I’ve got my passport ready to go to Ottawa. Before I go to Ottawa, the closest I’ve been to Canada would be when I played the bowl game in Detroit and I guess it overlooks Windsor which is a city in Canada and I thought it looked pretty cool over the bridge.”
Zlomislic: Just around a week following your signing here in Ottawa, the Redblacks announced the signing of Paul LaPolice as the new coach. Have you heard of LaPolice before?
Franklin: “No, I have not but after doing my research and looking at a few articles I’m convinced that he’s a great guy and I’m excited to go up there, tell him about myself and wake some people up.”
Zlomislic: Like mentioned before, you had an unreal college career. How do you plan on doing the same up north?
Franklin: “I definitely plan to be successful coming to Ottawa, but I plan on not just me being successful but I hope to make people around me successful and I plan to do whatever I can do to help the team.”
Zlomislic: We are just a few months away from training camp and you’re close to meeting the best fanbase in the CFL, what can they expect from you as a Redblack?
Franklin: “The fans can expect me to be a guy who’s ready to compete, a guy who is willing to have a ball in his hands every play of every game, a guy who wants to win more than he’s afraid to lose, a guy that will move the chains as a powerful runner, I will respect everyone around me whether its a fan or a teammate, they will see a guy who will give back to the community as much as possible and I’m ready to soak it all in and show love to the fans when I get to Ottawa.”
Zlomislic: If you could describe yourself with one word, what word describes you the best?
Franklin: “Violent. I am a violent runner with the football and my running style makes me want to send a message to the guys I’m up against and I’m always ready to run hard.”