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‘Last Chance U’ star John Franklin III signs with CFL’s Elks
(Credit: Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports)

‘Last Chance U’ star John Franklin III signs with CFL’s Elks

EDMONTON, Alberta (BVM) – Less than a month after the Edmonton Elks signed former “Last Chance U” quarterback Malik Henry, the squad added yet another familiar face from the series. On Wednesday, the Elks announced the signing of John Franklin III, who starred as the quarterback for East Mississippi Community College during the hit Netflix show’s inaugural season.

After beginning his career as a freshman at Florida State, Franklin led the Lions to an 8-1 season in 2015, throwing for 733 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 451 yards and one score during his sophomore season. His performances were captured and highlighted by “Last Chance U” cameras for the nation to see, with the quarterback quickly gaining fans and popularity.

His play at EMCC earned Franklin another chance at the D-I level as he signed with the Auburn Tigers. With the Tigers, Franklin served as the backup quarterback for the 2016 season, recording 14 completions on 26 attempts for 204 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 430 yards and two more scores.

John Franklin football Auburn Tigers football
Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback John Franklin III (5) throws a pass against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (Credit: Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports)

In hopes of earning more playing time, Franklin transferred to Florida Atlantic for his final collegiate season in 2017. He played both quarterback and wide receiver for the Owls, recording one completion on two attempts for 49 yards while rushing for 229 yards and two scores while catching seven passes for 95 yards and a score. Franklin declared for the 2018 NFL Draft following the season.

John Franklin III FAU Owls football
Dec 2, 2017; Boca Raton, FL, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls wide receiver John Franklin III (12) celebrates his touchdown against the North Texas Mean Green during the first half at FAU Football Stadium. (Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Though he would go undrafted, Franklin quickly signed a contract with the Chicago Bears as a cornerback. While he didn’t make the 53-man roster, Franklin spent the entire season on the Bears’ practice squad.

John Franklin III Chicago Bears football
Aug 18, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Bryce Bobo (13) and Chicago Bears defensive back John Franklin (43) after the game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. (Credit: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)

In November 2019, Franklin was picked up off of Chicago’s practice squad by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would spend two and a half years in Tampa Bay, winning the Super Bowl in February 2021.

However, things didn’t always go swimmingly in the NFL for Franklin. In December 2021, Franklin was among a trio of players suspended by the league for violating the NFL-NFL Players Association COVID-19 protocols. This would mark the end of Franklin’s time in the NFL.

After his four-year NFL stint, Franklin spent the past two years in the USFL playing for the Tampa Bay Bandits in 2022 and the Memphis Showboats in 2023. He appeared in nine games for the Bandits, recording 14 catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns before he appeared in one game for the Showboats, recording one reception for 11 yards last season.

Now, Franklin will look to find more success in the CFL. With his signing, Franklin becomes the seventh member of the show to make it to the CFL, joining fellow season one stars Ronald Ollie and C.J. Reavis, season two star Tim Bonner and season three and four stars Henry, T.J. Johnson and Calvin Jackson Jr. If both Franklin and Henry can make the Elks final roster, perhaps the team will get an influx of support from the “Last Chance U” fanbase as they look to improve from their 4-14 record last season.