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UCLA football: Staying power paying off for Johnathan Franklin

Johnathan Franklin has outlasted his recruiting class peers in the backfield and is now closing in on Gaston Green's UCLA rushing record.

October 18, 2012|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
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It seems the right guy stuck around.

UCLA's Johnathan Franklin, a fifth-year senior, was a face in the crowded backfield in 2008.

The recruiting class included Franklin, Milton Knox, Aundre Dean and Derrick Coleman. Raymond Carter, who sat out the 2007 season because of a knee injury, was a redshirt freshman.

Franklin is the one who is left.

Coleman, who graduated last year, had a productive UCLA career, with 1,780 yards rushing. Dean transferred to Texas Christian, Carter to Colorado State and Knox to Fresno State.

"I learned a lot about myself when those guys were here, what I really wanted, who I wanted to be," Franklin said.

Franklin, with 3,547 yards, is oh-so-close to the UCLA career rushing record. He is second to Gaston Green, who had 3,731 in 1984-87.

Those other four backs have totaled 3,055 yards in their college careers. Dean and Knox are still playing.

"I saw a Fresno State game recently and Milton was playing," Franklin said. "We started talking about those guys. It's a blessing I'm still here. They are all great backs. But at the end of the day, it's a business. They decided they had to be somewhere else."

While they were at UCLA, Franklin said, "You couldn't take a day off."

Franklin hasn't, even with a number of small injuries he is working through.

"Everybody is banged up on our team," Franklin said. "I have been in treatment these past two days. The trainers are doing a great job working my calf, my thigh, my hand."

Asked whether he thought he had the same burst running the ball, Franklin laughed and said, "I did what I could for my team. I gave it all I had."

Franklin finished with 79 yards rushing, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, in the win over Utah on Saturday. His longest run was 18 yards.

Killing time

UCLA is working through an off week, which is a balancing act for Coach Jim Mora.

The Bruins face Arizona State, the Pac-12 Conference's South Division leader, on Oct. 27. Arizona State plays second-ranked Oregon on Thursday.

The danger with the extra week, Mora said, is, "you don't want them getting stale talking about Arizona State too soon. You plant the seeds in their mind. I'm sure they will all be watching the game on Thursday night."

UCLA has started working on its Arizona State game plan, though Mora said, "You've got to be careful how much you do too soon. You want to keep the focus tight."

The Bruins will practice Monday, which is usually a day off. Arizona State scheming will begin in earnest then, Mora said.

Devil of a defense

UCLA's offense, which labored through a 21-14 victory over Utah, may not have it any easier against Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are eighth nationally in total defense. They are second in pass efficiency defense, second in sacks, fifth in passing yards allowed, ninth in tackles for a loss and ninth in scoring defense.

The weakness? Arizona State is "only" 38th nationally against the run.

Quick hits

Wide receiver Kenneth Walker was attending to a personal matter and sat out practice. … Guard Carl Hulick was in a walking boot, though he was also in full pads. He has a minor injury. … Cornerback Marcus Rios left practice because of a migraine.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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