John Franklin III’s final day with Michael Vick ended much the same way as the previous day training in Florida.
The Auburn quarterback and 13-year NFL veteran trained alongside each other, with Franklin standing to the side in awe learning every technique he could gather from Vick’s drops, elusiveness and using his powerful legs to be more accurate throwing the ball on the run. Vick, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks, was also impressed with Franklin, who is actively battling for the starting job at Auburn this summer.
“Mike pretty much sees himself in this kid,” quarterback trainer Oliver Bozeman told SEC Country. “He’s fast, strong arm, he’s a student of the game. He catches on to different things pretty fast. He absorbs information pretty quick. He may have some things where he may slip up from a technique standpoint but from that next rep, he fixes that mistake pretty fast. Mike likes him because, even though he’s riding his wave right now running a 4.2 in the 40-yard dash, he’s still a humble kid. He’s still seeking the information to want to be great.”
Vick is a free agent at the moment, but the former Virginia Tech star has thrown for 22,464 yards and rushed for 6,109 yards in his 13 seasons playing in the NFL. Franklin III, who boasts a 40-yard dash time in the 4.3 range and was a track star in high school, is by far the fastest quarterback on the Tigers’ roster. He is still working to beat veterans Jeremy Johnson and Sean White in the quarterback battle, but coach Gus Malzahn has been impressed by Franklin.
“He is a talented young man, he’s very fast and he wants to be good,” Malzahn said Tuesday. “I think that’s important. He’s still learning the offense but the fact that he’s very coachable, wants to be good, he’s right in the middle of the thing right now.”
Bozeman’s mentor is NFL assistant David Lee, the man many in the NFL credited with the Wildcat formation’s wildly successful run in the late 2000’s. Interestingly, it’s Lee who replace Malzahn at Arkansas after the future Auburn coach had introduced the Wildcat formation — then the “Wild Hog” — into the college football lexicon. Lee expanded upon it further in the NFL.
“Everything I’m passing along to John is what they’re looking or in the NFL,” Bozeman said. “These things can only help him enhance his game. Hopefully, it gives him the confidence he needs going into this open battle with two quarterbacks. If you’re learning and getting better, it’s only going to show on the field.”
— John Franklin III (@jf3_5) May 11, 2016
Malzahn does not allow his quarterbacks to train with coaches or experts outside of Auburn, so it will be interesting to see if Franklin’s training with others continues.
Bozeman said he expects Franklin to join him and others later this summer for another week of training, but understands if Malzahn steps in and ends the on-the-field relationship between Franklin, Bozeman and Vick. The only coach in the SEC who forbids quarterbacks from training outside the athletics program is Malzahn.
Franklin III informed Auburn coaches his plan to train with Vick, his hero, and the staff cleared him to do so on a limited basis, a source close to the program told SEC Country.
“I have to respect them because he’s the coach of that program,” Bozeman said. “I haven’t heard anything from him but if that is something and he came to me and let me know, ‘Hey, coach, I appreciate everything you’ve done and I appreciate it but I want my quarterbacks to receive the coaching I have.’ That’s all fine and dandy. No disrespect from either part and I can take that and keep going with that.
“This is something Mike has been doing and with Mike being an idol for [Franklin], he reached out to me through a coach he knew. They got together just so he can get pointers from Mike more so than (train).”