ON SPORTS: Two knee injuries can't stop Refugio's Franklin
Feb. 6, 2013 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:06 p.m.
REFUGIO - Malcolm Franklin had no qualms about attending West Texas A&M as a preferred walk-on.
Franklin was happy just to get the chance to play college football after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee as a sophomore and a senior.
Franklin was continuing the rehab he began shortly after suffering his most recent injury during the second game of the season when Refugio coach Jason Herring got some welcome news.
"About two weeks ago West Texas called me and said, 'You know what coach we've had a change of heart,'" Herring said. "'We're so impressed with the way he stuck it out we're going to scholarship that kid.'
"That sends chills down my body thinking about it," he added. "I think it's a credit to perseverance and staying the course even when you had no reason and life had hit you down twice."
Franklin joined teammates Draigon Silvas and Marcus Thompson on Wednesday morning for a National Signing Day ceremony at the high school.
He posed for pictures and spoke about following in the footsteps of his brother, Brian Bonner, who received a scholarship to TCU after graduating from Beeville.
"After the injury, I thought my whole leg needs to become stronger so I needed a way to work that out," Franklin said. "I think of this as way for me to work out and have an advantage."
Franklin carried only nine times for 97 yards before hurting his knee as a sophomore.
He returned as a junior and rushed 61 times for 864 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had the highest yards per carry average (14.16) for the Bobcats, who went 15-0 and won the Class 2A, Division II state championship.
"I wasn't nervous," he said. "I was basically worried about whether I could be as good as I was before. One game, I got stuck in the same leg. I got up mad. I was yelling and jumping up and down. Coach was over on the sideline telling me to calm down. After that, I started playing like my old self and got better."
Franklin was looking forward to his senior season, but carried only 13 times for 65 yards and one touchdown before injuring the knee again in Refugio's 56-0 win over Edna.
He left Bobcat Stadium on crutches and in tears, but ready to begin the road back for a second time.
"I was going to take it as I've got this little injury and basically build from the beginning," Franklin said. "Coach Herring was telling me it's just a little bump in the road and constantly reminding me. Mostly my family was there. They were telling me things happen for a reason so I was going to run with it."
Lottie and Donald Davis remain proud of their son's attitude and commitment.
"He knew what he had to look forward to," Lottie said. "I said everything is going to be all right. God does things in different ways. There's a reason why this happened. He kept going and going."
"He was determined to go to college and he wanted to still play college football," Donald said.
Herring found it easy to keep Franklin involved with the team.
"The thing that separates Malcolm is he never gave up," Herring said. "He persevered in everything. Even when his knee was torn up he made every single practice and ran the scout team for us by holding up the cards.
"It's amazing. It didn't affect him mentally. I mean I know it hurt him, but he made sure he took care of his grades, he made sure he took care of his clearinghouse, his GPA, his test scores and all of that stuff."
Franklin enjoyed being around his teammates, including younger brother Dana, who will be a senior next season.
"You're reminiscing all the way when you were young until now and want to look at practice and go," he said. "You can still get mental reps like my coach said. You can still learn so that's what I did. The times when I wasn't going to therapy I would be there at practice."
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Franklin will return to the doctor in March and hopes to be able to begin running drills.
He plans to major in criminal justice with a goal of becoming a member of a SWAT team.
Franklin will redshirt his first season in Canyon and looks forward to showing the Buffaloes they made the right decision.
"It just makes me want to work harder to leave them no doubt," he said. "Anyone who turned me down I'm going to make that a regret for them. I'm going to work toward that."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.