Zaire Franklin — Meet the 2017 Syracuse Football team

Franklin represented Syracuse at ACC Kickoff for a record third year
Franklin represented Syracuse at ACC Kickoff for a record third year

Over the summer, The Juice Online will be featuring players on the 2017 Syracuse football team as we countdown to kickoff. Today, The Juice Online looks at senior linebacker Zaire Franklin.

Not that Syracuse linebacker Zaire Franklin needed the extra motivation, but there were two things in particular that stood out to him at ACC Kickoff earlier in July.

The first was being asked about Syracuse surrendering 76 points in a loss to Pittsburgh last season. It was an offensive shootout that totaled more points than the two basketball teams would score against each other later in the year.

“It’s not one of the easiest games to watch, but it’s one that we critique the most,” Franklin said. “And it’s definitely helped motivate our team to get more in the film room, get more in the weight room, and get back out on the field to be able to put a better product on the field because the last thing you want to be thought of is the team that gave up 76 points.”

But like it or not, that’s what’s thought of the Syracuse defense, and the team in general.

That carried into the second motivating factor.

While there were more than 30 tripods set up at the media event, most of the cameras had turned their attention elsewhere, with SU mostly an afterthought in a league that includes perennial powers Clemson and Florida State.

“You can see kind of the pecking order in a sense, and I think there’s no more motivation than seeing that with your own two eyes,” Franklin said. “So I think it’s just our job to make sure that next time I come in this room that everybody is in here.”

Stability will help Franklin achieve that goal.

The Orange is now in its second season in the Tampa-2 system, with Dino Babers doing away with the blitzing scheme after he arrived at Syracuse.

» More SU football: Scoop Bradshaw — Meet the 2017 Syracuse Football team

The continuity can only help a unit that finished near the bottom of the NCAA in most statistical categories.

“A year or two under the same staff is definitely a major transition,” Franklin said. “Nothing comes as a surprise anymore. We are very comfortable, not only with the coaches, but also with the strength and conditioning staff.

Inside slant: Franklin has been a leader for Syracuse for three seasons now, and it was a record-setting third time in a row that Franklin was at the ACC Kickoff. “It’s an honor,” Franklin said. “I take a great deal of pride in it, honestly, that my coaches feel that way and the program honestly just gave me that responsibility to be represented and be considered an ambassador of the program for three straight years.”


  • Birthdate: July 1996
  • Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
  • High School: La Salle College
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Class: Senior
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 236 lbs

Career highlights: Franklin was named to the All-ACC Third Team last season after finishing second on the team with 101 tackles and also contributed 10 tackles for loss. Franklin will be the first three-time captain at Syracuse since the 1890s.

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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]