Sooner Franks to enter NFL draft
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
1/06/10 at 5:21 AM
Oklahoma's Dominique Franks sounded certain when he said last month he would definitely return to school for his senior year.
But on Tuesday, Franks told ESPN that he will forgo his 2010 season in Norman and enter the NFL draft.
"It's what's best," Franks told ESPN. "I can shut down one side of the field and I study and work hard enough to know what's coming."
A source close to Franks said he received a second-round grade from the NFL's College Advisory Committee and confirmed that Franks was leaving school.
Franks, a junior cornerback who was the Tulsa World's state player of the year as a senior at Union, flew out of Tulsa on Tuesday to attend a pre-combine training camp.
"I'm going to start training today to get stronger and make sure all my techniques are great for the combine," he told ESPN.
Franks did not return voicemails or text messages seeking comment. His mother, Thelma Franks, declined comment.
"We wish Dom all the best and I hope at some point that he'll also be back to complete his degree," OU coach Bob Stoops said in a statement released by the school.
On Dec. 9, Franks seemed to have doubts about his ability to transition immediately to the NFL.
"There's just a lot of things that I need to work on," he said. "I'm not worried about it at all. I'm coming back."
Franks said then that he had submitted an inquiry to the advisory committee, "just to get a grade," but said even if he received a projected first-round grade, it wouldn't change his mind.
The NFL's foreseeable labor situation is cloudy, with no salary cap in place for 2010 and a potential cap on rookie salaries beyond that. There has even been speculation on a labor stoppage in 2011.
That has led to record projections of underclassmen entering this year's draft. A record 70 underclassmen came out early in 2008, and some agents are forecasting close to 100 could come out this year.
Scouting analyst Gil Brandt joked last fall that there would be "about 300 first-rounders" if all the draft-eligible juniors listened to the wrong people.
Players have until Jan. 15 to decide, then have three days to withdraw their names and retain their college eligibility, if they don't hire an agent.
Franks is among a handful of OU juniors who submitted paperwork to the advisory committee and could explore their draft potential. Defensive end Jeremy Beal, wide receiver Ryan Broyles, safety Quinton Carter and linebacker Travis Lewis are among the others. Broyles and Lewis are third-year sophomores.
Franks was OU's top cornerback in 2008, his first year as a starter, when he had four interceptions, scored two defensive touchdowns and made 44 tackles (27 solo). This season Franks was victimized by visible coverage busts against BYU and Miami before his performance picked up over the second half of the season. He had two interceptions in 2009, one for a touchdown, and 47 tackles (33 solo).
The source, a friend of the Franks family, said Franks had made up his mind to leave a few weeks ago but never meant to come off sounding disingenuous in his December interview.
He said Franks had become "gun shy" in interviews because of the fervor he created before last year's national championship game, when questions to him about where Florida quarterback Tim Tebow would rank among Big 12 quarterbacks were answered honestly but taken out of context.
The source said Franks didn't like answering the same questions over and over, so "he thought (saying he would return to OU next year) was the easiest way to not get asked it a whole bunch."
Franks was the Tulsa World's state player of the year in 2005. He grew up in Oklahoma City and moved to Owasso in junior high. He played two years at Union and helped the Redskins win state championships in 2004 and 2005.
John E. Hoover 581-8384
OU's Dominique Franks had two interceptions in 2009, one for a touchdown, and 47 tackles (33 solo). Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World
High School: Union