KENTWOOD, Mich. — Jaylan Franklin’s long legs lifted him over the final hurdle of the 300-meter race on Saturday. He finished unscathed, something not all of his competitors could claim.
The Carlson (Mich.) junior finished seventh in the Michigan Lower Peninsula Division I finals. After he caught his breath and took a long drink from a hose, he reflected on his performance.
“I probably should’ve done better, but my steps are a little messed up on this track because the curve is shorter than usual,” the 6-foot-4 Franklin said. “You have to switch your steps, and I didn’t get much time to practice them. But other than that, it was good competition. That was the first time I’ve had competition since a year ago in the last regionals. I had a good time. It was all fun.”
His 39.44-second performance made him one of eight competitors with a sub-40-second finish. On the year, he said he made a three-second improvement on his personal record.
Now he hopes to catapult himself to a title next year. “That’s my goal,” he said. Five of the six athletes who bested him on Saturday were seniors.
By the time next track season comes around, that will be Franklin’s singular focus. Right now, his mind is still occupied by his college decision. A 3-star athlete in the 247Sports composite, Franklin said Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin still have the edge.
“Pretty much those are the top 3 right now,” he said. “I’ll be visiting Wisconsin on the 8th and the 9th [of June] for overnight. And then the 17th I go up to Notre Dame, and that’ll probably be my last visit out. I’ll make my decision a week or so after that.”
Having visited Northwestern four times and Michigan State about 20 more, he doesn’t intend to drop by their campuses again before coming to a decision. Notre Dame will be the most vital trip. Should the Irish offer, he said it would push back his decision several days as he looks into the school more.
“It would pretty much shake it up,” he said. “It would shake everything up just because of how big of a school they are. I would do my research on them. Every time I get an offer, I don’t just take the offer and leave. I research it a little bit, see what I can do with it.”
Two unique factors will play heavily into his decision. First is his future position. Though most schools see him at outside linebacker, Wisconsin wants Franklin playing tight end, an intriguing proposition for a player who has played a lot of offense in high school.
Then there’s the academic side. Franklin hopes to major in computer science and eventually work for Apple or Google. Northwestern has stood out in that regard, with Wisconsin “right behind” in its academic opportunities.
“Regardless of where I go, I’m going to be happy,” he said. “I just want to play. College football is college football.”