A Conversation with James Franklin
James Franklin, a four-star 2010 recruit from Lake Dallas High School in Texas, is the starting quarterback for the University of Missouri for a second year. He faces the tough task of leading the Tigers into the perilous waters of their first year in the tough Southeastern Conference.
Franklin, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 230-pound junior, seems more than ready for the challenges ahead — not just having a successful football season, but, more importantly, living a devoted Christian life.
Baptized at 15, Franklin loves the church. He also loves preaching and holding Bible studies with friends. In all that he does, he seems to sense the urgency of teaching the lost.
The 21-year old’s football statistics also are impressive. In 2011, his first year as a starter, he narrowly missed out on a rare 3,000-yard passing/1,000-yard rushing season. Analysts placed him on a preseason Heisman watch list and raved about his ability not only to throw the ball but also to run it. After three games this season, Franklin was 49 of 80 passing for 492 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 70 yards rushing on 41 attempts.
He is the fourth child of Willie and Pam Franklin. His father, a well-known minister in the Dallas area, was once a standout receiver for the University of Oklahoma and played in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts.
What challenges have you overcome to be where you are today?
To be honest, I have not had very many hard challenges to overcome. When I was younger, they told me I was too big to play quarterback, and now some people think I’m too small.
Growing up with three sisters is overcoming something, isn’t it?
When I was 15, I became a Christian, and the challenge that I’ve been dealing with, for the most part, is overcoming Satan and the temptations that he brings along with success.
How do you maintain Christian values in view of the pressures you face on the national stage?
I have been blessed with two strong and great Christian parents who instilled Christian values in me as I was growing up under their roof. Because of that, I am able to remain strong with my beliefs by reading my Bible frequently and being around Christians and having Bible studies. Those are the things that help me keep and maintain my spiritual beliefs. No matter what stage I am on, I always put God first.
Do you see God working in your life? Explain.
I see God working in my life as well as everybody else’s. God has a plan for everybody, but not one person knows his plan for them. I believe that God has put me in this position to be able to reach out to so many people and help change their lives and maybe even introduce Christ into their life for the first time.
What have been the highlights of your college football career so far?
The highlights of my college football career so far have probably just been last season, 2011, my first to start at quarterback. There were a couple of good games that I had and a few plays here and there that were all right and that really brought a lot of attention.
For me, the most fun games were the ones with the receivers making the plays. Not a lot of people know, but I actually enjoy throwing rather than running.
Some say that playing sports builds character. Do you agree?
I think that sports are a good way to help build character, but you can also learn bad character. If you look at all professional sports, you find guys who are taunting, cussing and saying bad things to the other teams.
Since when is it OK for a grownup to yell and have a fit, but it’s not OK for a child to do that?
It’s never cool to disrespect your opponent, but that’s what seems to be going on too often in sports. That is what the kids are learning to do nowadays.
So I believe sports can build character — but not always good character.
What are your personal goals this year in college?
My personal goals this year are to have a winning record in football, in school to get a 3.0 grade-point average or better in the semester and to reach out to as many people as I can and just make a difference in their lives.
I want to help everybody I can, whether it’s spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, anything. And I know that through college football I’ll have a lot of opportunities to do that.
We understand that you love to preach. Tell us about that.
Yes sir, I love preaching. I love talking to people. I love giving presentations.
My dad is an evangelist, and I would like to be that one day. I like to be very animated when I speak and to create humor to get the point across. I like to be different in my everyday life and also when I speak, because people don’t usually remember the ordinary, but they always remember something different or unusual. It’s just like when a parent asks their kids how school was and they tell them something weird that happened that day.
What do you hope to do when your college football days are over?
When my college football days are over, maybe I’ll be in the NFL or maybe not. Regardless, I would like to be an evangelist and be able to spread the Word to as many people as I can or just to be a Christian representative.
What is your favorite Scripture?
I have a lot of favorite verses, but the one I’ll give is James 1:19-20. James tells us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the wrath of man is not the righteousness of God.
That can be applied in every aspect of our life. When a guy cusses me out or says something to me on the football field, I don’t respond in a negative way, and it’s because of that verse.
I also like the verses that talk about not returning evil for evil. I try to win over my enemies, not with brute force or harsh words but with kindness.