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Johnathan Franklin has high aspirations at UCLA

The junior running back wants to win the Pacific 12 Conference championship and also break the school record for rushing yards in a season held by Karim Abdul-Jabbar, who gained 1,571 yards in 1995. Franklin ran for 1,127 yards last season.

August 24, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin breaks off a big gain in the first half of a 42-28 victory over Washington State at the Rose Bowl last season.
UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin breaks off a big gain in the first half… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

There are things on Johnathan Franklin's to-do list that might seem out of reach.

One: "I want to win the [Pacific 12] Conference championship," he said.

Other goals may be within his grasp. Karim Abdul-Jabbar's school record 1,571 yards rushing for example.

Abdul-Jabbar set the record in 1995, and Franklin hopes to eclipse it this season.

"I don't want to be average," Franklin said. "I want to be great. That's a record I want to get."

Franklin had 1,127 yards last season, ranking him 10th on UCLA's single-season list, and there is little doubt he will carry the majority of the work load this season. He has 1,693 career yards. With two years left, Gaston Green's UCLA career record of 3,731 yards is within sight.

Franklin knows only one way to get both records.

"I keep telling [center] Kai Maiava that he is going to win the Rimington Trophy," Franklin said.

The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the nation's top center.

"He doesn't take all the fame," tackle Sean Sheller said of Franklin. "That makes us want to block for him. Sometimes you can get a running back and it's 'me, me, me.' That's not Johnathan."

Injury Ward

Chris Ward was on crutches and wearing a walking boot Wednesday — yet was enormously happy considering he had been carted off from practice a day earlier.

"It's only a sprain," said Ward, who underwent X-rays that showed no other damage to his right ankle. He added that UCLA's medical staff had not given him a timetable for his return, "but I'll be ready by Houston."

Wide receiver Taylor Embree said an MRI exam on his right calf Tuesday revealed "only some fluid" and that he expected to return to practice Monday.

Cornerback Anthony Jefferson, who had back surgery last month, is still six weeks away from being allowed to have contact.

Quick hits

UCLA began installation of the game plan for Houston on Wednesday, giving the Bruins seven practices to prepare for the Sept. 3 opener. "This is the first day we worked scout team, so that makes it a little sluggish," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. … Wide receiver Nelson Rosario sat out practice with an illness. … Defensive tackle Cassius Marsh and Maiava got into a small scrape following one play. "This is that point in camp where tempers are short," Neuheisel said. "You got guys who are very competitive going head-to-head and you're going to have some flare-ups. It's just important that it doesn't spill over."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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