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It’s Navy for Cornersville’s Franklin

Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 8:44 am

Post Photo by Patty Blackburn Ben Franklin is joined by his family as he signs his letter of intent to continue his football career at Navy.

Post File Photo by Chris Siers A two-way player, Franklin set four school records and earned Mr. Football recognition as a finalist this season.

Ben Franklin has been making the waves for years with the Cornersville Bulldogs football program.
A two-way player, Franklin set four offensive school records, but was also a defensive terror for opposing quarterbacks.
His versatility and ability to play both positions at the highest level eventually landed him on the Naval Academy’s radar.
Eventually, that led to his signing with the Midshipmen to continue his football career.
“I feel like it gives more security. It’s tough having all these options and not knowing where you want to go. I wanted to get it over with and know where I’m going to be for the next four years of my life,” Franklin said.
Franklin always felt the pull to join the service to follow in family footsteps.
“My grandfather was in the national guard and my brother is in the army. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and serve this country,” he said.
Not only was Franklin one of the best football players in all of Class 1A in the state, but he lived up to his end of being a true student-athlete.
“I’m blessed. It’s been a pleasure. He’s a good kid. The Academies want players, but they want good people too. You’ve got to have the grades and everything in-between. He checks all the boxes,” Bulldog coach Eliot Cook said.
During his senior season, Franklin rushed for 2,184 yards on 176 attempts and scored 31 touchdowns in 10 games. Defensively, he recorded 11 sacks, 37 tackles for loss and forced five fumbles.
“I told him all year that we brought a little magic back to Frog Bottom and he was a big part of that,” Cook said.
Attending a service academy like Navy, it’s not just the play on the field that is sought after.
“In the community, he’s a good guy and everybody speaks highly of him. He’s just a joy to coach,” Cook said.
Franklin got his start, jumping right into the pads after being signed up to play by his dad.
“My dad made me play in Division 2. I had never played before. I didn’t play flag or anything, I started off in full pads in Division 2,” he said.
Since then, the rest is history.
Though he’s likely to fill the role of a pass rusher at the collegiate level, Franklin’s versatility piqued the interest of several of the Midshipmen’s recruiters.
“Even recruiting wise, when I reached out to Navy, the original coach I contacted showed it to the running backs coach, inside linebackers coach and the d-line coach and all said they would love to have him. He can play anywhere,” Cook said.
“His natural get off and strength with his hands, it just suits him for outside linebacker. People that can get after the quarterbacks are where it’s at in football right now, especially at those higher levels. That’s what comes most natural to him. The Naval Academy runs an offense that suits him really well, too.”
For now, Franklin is focused on getting a jump-start on college classes and working out to prepare for his debut this fall.
“They sent me an itinerary of the conditioning and workouts I need to be doing. I’m starting college a little early and getting some classes done with,” he said.
Franklin hopes that being from a small town like Cornersville will inspire future players who may look to play at the collegiate level.
“Hopefully it inspires them. It doesn’t matter where you’re going to school, you can get a chance as long as you work,” he said.
“We’ve had kids from here go to school, UT-Martin and other places. When people look at 1A ball, it’s harder to go, but if you do things the right way, you’ll get noticed. It’s huge to have a kid go to the Naval Academy from Cornersville,” Cook added.
While he won’t report for basic training until the middle of the summer, Franklin is still excited for the next step in his career.
“I’m very excited. It will be like a whole new world coming from a small town,” he said.