Franklin to honor Nash

MU’s Will Franklin changes his number to 2 to honor former Tiger Damien Nash.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:45 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008
Will Franklin came back to Missouri for his senior season after scouts told him he was a late second-round pick at best.

After the defense blocked Jeff Wolfert’s 55­—yard field goal attempt during Tuesday’s scrimmage in preparation for the Black and Gold game, momentary chaos reigned on Faurot Field.

The block had tied the scrimmage at 54-54, and no time remained on the clock. Members of the defense ran onto the field, pleading for overtime, while the coaches huddled to decide what to do.

The defense got their wish, and an overtime period between the first team offense and defense was added.

But Will Franklin and Chase Daniel crashed the defense’s party. Daniel hit Franklin for a 35 yard touchdown over the middle, winning the scrimmage for the offense, 60-54.

“It was really important for us to go out with a bang,” Franklin said.

Franklin would also like to go out with a bang as a Tiger, returning for his senior season after exploring his options in the NFL Draft.

“They told me that I would be late second round — third round. Just knowing what we have coming back (to Missouri) can help me in the long run,” Franklin said.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel believes that if a player would be drafted in the first round, he should leave, and Pinkel passed on the same advice to Franklin.

“He definitely told me ‘Will, if you were a first rounder I would definitely say to go. I would push you out of here,’” Franklin said.

Franklin said scouts told him that he could be a first-round pick if he returned for his senior year, even though the Tigers return all but one member of a receiving corps that caught 291 passes last season.

Is Franklin worried about the possibility that his numbers may slip a bit?

“No, not really. The more you spread the ball around, the more points you put up and the more wins you have,” Franklin said.

Even though he is returning, early on, some fans may have a hard time finding who Franklin is on the field. Franklin changed his jersey number to No. 2, in honor of former Missouri running back Damien Nash who died Feb. 24.

“We were real close. I just wanted to pay my respects to my friend,” said Franklin.

“I kind of made a name for myself as No. 3, but this is more about Nash than myself as an individual.”

Besides Nash, there will be another former Tiger on Franklin’s mind this season, even though he’s currently playing in the NFL.

Franklin said he wanted to model himself after Brad Smith, who was considered the team leader when he played at Missouri from 2002-2005.

“I want to be a great leader, both action wise and vocally. That’s what Brad did. He did it with his actions and he spoke up,” Franklin said.

And there’s no need to worry about Franklin’s labrum either, in fact, it’s stronger than it was before the injury.

“My shoulder is 100 percent. It’s actually stronger than my left arm,” Franklin chuckled.

NOTES: Wide receiver Jared Perry appeared to injure his right ankle during scrimmage on Tuesday, and sat out the rest of the practice.

Defensive tackle Lorenzo Williams grabbed an interception at the line of scrimmage and rumbled 40 yards before he was chased down.

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