Zaire Franklin — Meet the 2016 Syracuse Football team

Franklin will lead the Syracuse defense
Franklin will lead the Syracuse defense

Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling linebacker Zaire Franklin.

Syracuse linebacker Zaire Franklin summed up the new Orange attack fairly well in one word.

“Mayhem,” Franklin said at ACC Kickoff in July.

That is the kind of adjective that new head coach Dino Babers wants associated with Syracuse. The offense will move at a lightening fast pace, while the defense will rely on a pressure scheme to force turnovers.

The coaches warned the players spring practice would be something unlike what they had ever seen before.

“I guess you don’t believe it until you see it up close,” Franklin said.

But toward the end of spring practice, something clicked, and the team started to understand the complexities of the system.

“I felt like a freshman again. It was a million miles an hours because it was going so fast,” Franklin said. “But once the smoke cleared, I think we understood that once we sharpen it up, we can get it going.”

Franklin himself is looking to get going again, as well. He was limited in spring practice because of an undisclosed injury, or a “boo-boo,” as Franklin described it.

“I’m all the way back now,” Franklin said. “I’m happy to be back.”

Franklin is also back as a captain, a role that he had last year as a sophomore.

“It meant the world to me, to be honest with you,” Franklin said. “To be selected by my coaches and my teammates to be given that type of honor and to be put in the forefront and be considered one of the leaders of the team.”

» More SU football: Jason Emerich — Meet the 2016 Syracuse Football team

Inside slant: Franklin will be asked to assume a different role in Syracuse’s new Tampa 2 system. Whereas Franklin was used more in blitz packages last year, he will drop more into zone coverage this season. “It’s definitely not a mystery with the way we run the defense,” Franklin said. “But I’m not worried about it.”


  • Birthdate: July 1996
  • Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
  • High School: La Salle
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 230 lbs

Career highlights: As a sophomore, Franklin started all 12 games at middle linebacker and led the Orange in tackles (81) and was second on the team in tackles for loss (11). In 2016, he has been named to the All-ACC Team Lindy’s (third team) and Athlon (fourth).

Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]