May 31, 2019

Camp Notebook | Franklin Learning The Ropes

He has proven to be an intriguing prospect in the Lions secondary and should he stick around beyond next week, Marloshawn Franklin Jr. could also double as the team barber. Cutting hair is one of the many traits he picked up from his dad, Marloshawn Sr.

“I picked up the trade. I’m able to get myself groomed up pretty good,” says the defensive back out of Cal-Berkeley.

“Guys came into camp with some fresh cuts. Maybe in the next week or so, some might need a nice little edge up.  Dad is a jack of all trades and definitely into the barber and beauty world.”

His story is not unlike many others of the lesser known players in camp. After growing up in Detroit, where he admits there were some good and bad things, Franklin Jr. found himself at Mesa Community College for two years before transferring to Cal-Berkeley in 2016. In 22 games with the Golden Bears, he racked up 60 defensive tackles, nine pass breakups and a sack. He counts his first Divison 1 game as the most memorable.

“We took a 15-hour flight to Australia and played the University of Hawaii,” recalls Franklin Jr.

“It was in a soccer stadium with maybe 80-85,000 people; definitely something to remember.”

From Berkeley, he went to mini-camps for both the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. Although he wasn’t able to stick in either place long-term, Franklin Jr. quickly found himself on the radar of Lions’ director of player personnel Torey Hunter and was promptly signed by the organization in March.

“It was good to kind of get my feet wet and gain some NFL experience. If not for that I wouldn’t be here in Kamloops,” said Franklin Jr.

B.C. Lions Marloshawn Franklin Jr. (19) tries to make the catch as Edmonton Eskimos Kenny Stafford (8) and Greg Ellingson (82) defend during first half CFL pre-season action in Edmonton, Alta., on Sunday May 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

His first CFL live action proved to be just as eye-opening as the Australia experience, as it would for any youngster making his first appearance north of the border. In Edmonton last Sunday, he was credited with one sack and had a couple of key pass breakups. It was a sure sign he had picked up the system quickly.

“It’s a great opportunity. I’m glad to have a helmet on again and to be out here with these guys,” he said.

“We have a great veteran presence here. Grymes and Peters have taken me under their wing and shown me some tips about the Canadian game. It’s obviously different up here with the bigger field and an extra guy out there. It’s definitely important to take some advice from those guys.”

Yet as the old adage goes, camp is indeed a true marathon, the polar opposite of a quick sprint or 40-yard dash. With a live scrimmage to come as part of Saturday evening’s FanFest activities, Franklin Jr. knows he has to keep with the hard work and good practice habits. Getting the chance to work with defensive backs coach Ryan Phillips hasn’t hurt his progress either.

“He’s a real players’ coach, a guy who has been there and done that as an all-star in this league,” said Franklin Jr.

“You can definitely tell there is a lot of game experience there and RP is giving us the right advice every day. He’s not afraid to tell us when we make great plays or when we mess up. It’s comforting to have your position coach be a future Hall of Famer.”

Marloshauwn’s talents and interests aren’t just limited to the gridiron and barbershop. His upbringing in Detroit and ability to earn a college degree motivated him to give back to youth. Back in Oakland, he started a non-profit organization called Relentless Sacrifices, which provides youth from underserved communities with knowledge of financial systems and advice on how to make smart financial choices with the help of a mentor.

“It gives kids advice in certain areas they won’t get in their school curriculum,” said Franklin Jr.

“They do geometry and other things they won’t need in the real world. Lots of people invested their time in me throughout my journey and athletic career. It’s good to just to be able to give back and utilize the resources that I came across and be able to give them to others.”

A jack of all trades, just like his old man. For now, his prime focus remains on cracking the Lions’ roster and making the most out of his first “true” trip north of the border.

“We had the Ambassador Bridge that took us to Windsor from Detroit. I remember going to a waterpark up there as a kid. That was my only prior Canadian experience. This here is the one I will remember the most.”

And if he can double up as the team barber, it will have been well worth the journey.


Matt Baker: