It did not take Kyle Franklin long to make a name for himself at the high school level.
Or realize he had quite a future in football.
As a freshman, Franklin – now a senior running back for IC Catholic Prep – was the understudy to Lazerick Eatman on the Knights’ varsity team. He hardly looked or played like a 14-year-old kid.
Franklin remembers taking a handoff against Riverside-Brookfield on an inside zone, read it to the outside, kept his knee from hitting the ground as a linebacker tried tackling him, and ran with it all the way to the end zone.
“That told me I can do a lot more as an athlete,” Franklin said. “It said if I can do that as a freshman, what does it mean about what I can do as a college athlete?”
He’s about to figure out.
Franklin on Monday made his verbal commitment to Indiana State, choosing the Sycamores from five offers including Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois and Northern Iowa.
Franklin, a compact 5-foot-6, 175-pound running back with thick legs and sprinter’s speed, has been a highlight reel waiting to happen since he arrived at IC Catholic.
As a freshman he ran for just under 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns – as a backup – and he followed that up with a record-setting 2,378 yards and 37 TDs. In the 2018 Class 3A championship game, on a hurt ankle, Franklin ran for 227 yards and two TDs to lead the Knights past Bishop McNamara to the third straight state title.
With 1,504 yards and 26 TDs as a junior, Franklin’s 74 career TDs has him 17th in IHSA history – with one abbreviated season left.
Not hard to imagine what Indiana State saw in Franklin. Indiana State, a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, is part of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
“The main thing their coach said is every time he would watch me run and watch film I would finish beyond the end zone,” Franklin said. “That’s something he told me is why he was so interested in me. I never give up on a play. I always have the mentality that if I’m not down, I’m going to keep pushing through the whistle. That’s the mindset I had since my freshman year.”
Franklin said Indiana State was his most recent offer, and has been recruiting him since the end of his junior year. There’s been consistent contact since, even though COVID-19 prevented Franklin from visiting the campus.
“They always backed me it felt like,” Franklin said. “The always contacted me and stayed in communication, even when NCAA rules were passed and there was going to be a quiet period between schools and they couldn’t contact me they showed love as much as they could, liking my tweets. That was appreciated by me and my family. As soon as rules got lifted and colleges could reach out they were the first ones.”
Franklin also appreciated that the Sycamores value him beyond his football ability.
“They’re always making sure I was keeping my grades up; they value me as a student-athlete, academics first,” Franklin said. “They understand my work ethic and my hard work in football; they want to make sure I’m putting in the same work in my academics. Football doesn’t last forever. They wanted to make sure that we can move on to our next careers and be not only great athletes and great me.”
Franklin is not quite ready to move on from high school football, though. He said that although he has not talked about it in depth with Indiana State’s coaching staff, they are completely on board with him finishing out his senior year and playing this spring with IC Catholic.
Also a track athlete, he’s kept in football shape by faithfully keeping up with his running.
“I’ve been running every day, trying to stay sharp and just stay focused,” Franklin said. “I’ve been working a lot on my speed because once the season starts I can get big. Speed is something that will allow me to stand out at the next level.”