The “Helicopter” has set down on the Missouri football team.
Freshman wide receiver William “Helicopter” Franklin, ranked the No. 8 prospect in Missouri by Rivals.com after his senior season at Vashon High in St. Louis, is a member of a large crop of receivers competing for playing time this season.
Franklin committed to Missouri early in the signing period in May of 2003 and chose the Tigers over Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State. He said coach Gary Pinkel’s involvement in his recruiting was a major reason he came to Columbia.
“Coach Pinkel was a big thing in the recruiting stage,” Franklin said. “Saying I could come here and compete for a job was even better.”
Franklin, who got the nickname Helicopter for his athletic feats on the basketball court at Vashon, has spent the first two weeks of practice working with the No. 3 and No. 4 offenses and has shown an ability to make difficult catches and get open.
Wide receiver coach Andy Hill said Franklin is an athletic receiver who runs good routes and attributed some of Franklin’s ability to his experience as a basketball player.
“I think playing at a good, high level in basketball has really helped him become competitive,” Hill said.
Hill also said Franklin has done well in the competition at the wide receiver spot, but that it is difficult for the freshman receivers at first.
“(Franklin)’s doing fine,” Hill said. “I mean most of the young guys are just trying to learn stuff and we throw a lot of stuff at them early and see if they try to adjust to it, and we’re in the process of doing that.”
The competition at wide receiver is one of the toughest on the team and the spots on the No. 1 offense went to Sean Coffey, Thomson Omboga and Brad Ekwerekwu in Saturday’s scrimmage. Franklin said he has learned a lot watching those more experience receivers and they have offered him advice as well.
“Usually a freshman doesn’t get advice from a lot of older guys who are competing for the same position, but up here as a team…they give me a lot of advice to push and keep going forward,” Franklin said.
Franklin also has another source of advice in his uncle Darnay Scott, who played seven years for the Cincinnati Bengals and one year for the Dallas Cowboys. Franklin said Scott has been an important source of encouragement during preseason practices.
“I talk to him every day and let him know what’s going on down here,” Franklin said. “He gives me advice and lets me know to keep working hard, never stop on a play, just be the player that I know I can be.”