Kendal Franklin came into the 2015 recruiting class as the lone linebacker, checking in at 6-1 228lbs. We caught up with him at Media Day.
Coming all the way from Louisiana, he's been enjoying his first few weeks on campus.
"It's amazing. It's been fun. Camp has been pushing us a lot, everyone working to try and get better," Franklin said. "I haven't been on campus all that much, just because we're in camp all day, but from the bit of campus I've been on, it's been cool."
Of course, there's a transition period for freshmen, and there's that moment when you realize you're no longer in high school. For Franklin, it was the conditioning.
"Being in Pac-12 we run and run and run. So just coming in shape and putting in the work and keeping up with the guys, that's just the biggest part," he said.
Out of Warren Easton (New Orleans, LA), Franklin went up against some tough competition, yet still led the state in sacks his junior and senior year. But now, Rich Rod's patented offense is on another level when it comes to speed.
"In my high school we went up against a lot of spread offense, but not at this speed," he said. "Coach Rich Rod wants to do everything fast and a quick pace, and it's just not like in high school. It's a different level, speed is everything here."
At Warren Easton, they ran a 4-3 defense, with Franklin lined up at end to rush the pass, while dropping back into coverage every once in a while. Now, he says that he's focusing on strictly being a linebacker, reading the under keys, getting off blocks and not just thinking like a defensive end.
Despite mainly playing in a defensive end role, in a 4-3 defense, Franklin says his biggest strength right now is his knowledge of Arizona's 3-3-5 playbook.
"I got most of the plays down, I feel confident about what I'm doing on the field. But now it's just getting out there and actually doing it. The playbook came much easier," he said.
Learning a bit about Kendal's recruitment process, he says that Scooby Wright III played a big part.
"He was one of the reasons I committed here," Franklin explained of their relationship. "Talking to this guy a lot, becoming close with him. When we do individual drills I get with him and we do pass rush drills and everything. We're working on attacking right now. I talked to Scooby a lot about it and worked with him on it. That's just all that we do."
Aside from Scooby, there were quite a few things that pushed Arizona to the top for Franklin.
"The fan atmosphere. The ZonaZoo was ranked No. 1 last year. Coach Magee is from Louisiana. But every once in a while Scooby would text me or talk to me on Twitter and be like 'hey, keep working, can't wait until you are here,' so it just felt like family. I wanted to get out of the south too," he added.
Coming in as a freshman, Franklin has one thing on his mind.
"It's just about winning. Everyone likes to talk about individual goals but everybody here just wants a ring. We want to get to the Rose Bowl, trying to win the Pac-12 and compete. And Coach Rich Rod is pushing us everyday."
With the first week of school just starting up, Franklin will be pursuing a degree in journalism.
"I'm trying to get into the interview process like this, and the writing too. Just getting behind the scenes and keeping around sports. I'm a big fan of stats and all sports. I was coming in as a communication major, but talking to my advisor, they were saying it's more of a help with journalism to be in sports."
Although he just got to campus a few weeks ago, Franklin has been to a lot of places to eat. But his favorite? "
"I'm about to say Empire Pizza, downtown. Maybe like three slices of pepperoni, a drink, and a lot of ranch."
Naturally, I had to ask about his favorite emoji as well.
"The purple, evil devil. It's not the mad devil, but the slightly grinning one. It's like, you don't know what's on his mind, but he's got a plan up in there," he explained.
Kendal Franklin could be in a pretty good situation right now with the way the linebacker depth is panning out. His knowledge of the playbook will take him a long way, which could make him one of the seven or eight true freshmen Rich Rod plans on playing this season.