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Home for the Holidays: Franklin prepares for shot at National Championship
Former Habersham Central standout redshirting for Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Daniel Franklin, a 2008 Habersham Central grad, is shown warming up before the game against Texas in Dallas. Franklin is redshirting this season with the Sooners. - photo by For The Times

Daniel Franklin
University of Oklahoma

High school: Habersham Central, Class of 2008

Age: 19

Position: Linebacker

Size: 6-foot-3, 225 pounds

Notable: Redshirting this season for the Sooners. ... Four-year starter at Habersham Central High. ... Set a school career-record with 395 tackles. ... Led Habersham Central with 128 tackles in 2007 ... Franklin was a 2007 Times First Team All-Area selection and 2007 Times Elite 11 Pick. ... selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the Under Armour ESPN All-Star game.

Leaving the nest to play college football had to come with some apprehension for Daniel Franklin. It’s not like it’s a normal progression to graduate from Habersham Central and move on to the University of Oklahoma to play at the next level.

Franklin, a 2008 Habersham Central grad and redshirted linebacker for Oklahoma, is one of only three players from Georgia listed on the Sooners’ roster.

"It’s kind of different, because almost everyone else is from Texas or Oklahoma," Franklin said. "And hardly anyone else is from Georgia, so it’s kind of weird.

"I tell people I’m from Atlanta, because it’s the only way they’ll have any idea where I’m from."

The former Raiders standout linebacker did get a couple days for Christmas vacation to return home to Mount Airy and visit with family and friends. It was a welcomed break from going through the grind of practice against one of the most potent offenses in the country.

Still, all the new challenges are worth it for Franklin. He’ll be right there on the sidelines for Oklahoma’s (12-1) national title game against Florida (12-1) on Jan. 8 in Miami. Franklin expects to take in an exciting game day atmosphere like he did every Saturday this fall for home games in Norman, Okla.

"The game day atmosphere at Oklahoma is awesome," Franklin said. "If I was to compare it to anything, I would say it’s like an Alabama or an Auburn game.

"It’s wild, it’s crazy and a lot of fun ... The Oklahoma fans are great."

As a redshirt, Franklin will not be able to get in the game, but he couldn’t be any more excited about what the game the Sooners will complete preparing for when they return from Christmas holidays. His function on the team this season is to practice and get to the level where he can compete for playing time at linebacker in 2009.

"I feel like I made a great choice in deciding to come to Oklahoma," Franklin said. "I knew from the beginning that Oklahoma was a very successful program and I expected to be playing for a national championship, but I wasn’t aware it was going to happen this soon."

Being redshirted certainly was an adjustment for Franklin, who has never had to deal with not playing. As a standout at Habersham Central, he had the opportunity to start every game all four years of high school (47 in all). He admits it’s still the best situation to get to learn the college game at this level for a season before getting thrown into the fire next fall.

"It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes getting redshirted," said Franklin, who hasn’t been promised any specific amount of playing time next season. "You go from being a star at your high school to not playing at all.

"You get reps in practice and get to make plays, but you’re not going to get a look because you’re redshirting so it’s tough. But it’s what’s best for me, and it makes me better on technique and little things like that and forced me to learn the intricacies of the game."

Franklin also saw the media blitz this fall around Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford and his run to winning the Heisman Trophy. He says that the Sooners’ signal caller handled the national spotlight for his individual accomplishments amazingly.

"Sam did great and represented the team really well," Franklin said. "It was cool to watch one of my fellow teammates win the Heisman.

"I was really happy for him, he’s a great guy and he really deserved it."

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