To say that former UCLA Bruins star running back Johnathan Franklin is experiencing culture shock in Wisconsin is an understatement.
The Green Bay Packers’ 2013 fourth-round draft pick and Los Angeles native didn’t know what he was getting into when he joined the NFL’s most legendary franchise and went from a city with nearly four million people to a town with just over 100,000.
“I saw a moose head in a room the other day and I went crazy. I ain’t seen none of this,” Franklin said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I said, ‘Is that real? Did you really kill a moose?’ It’s so different here. I saw a porcupine the other day, I mean it’s crazy.”
Los Angeles and Green Bay are different, point taken, but what isn’t different is the business of football, and Franklin understands that his role is to step in, compete and work hard. In a place where there’s not a lot going on, that figures to be a relatively easy thing to focus on.
“There’s not that much to do in Green Bay, which allows us on this team to be close,” he added. “We’re not going out and trying to impress nobody.”
Franklin is one of several Packers rookies who will come into training camp and try to make an immediate impact on a team that can use some help in the running game. Aaron Rodgers is an undeniably elite quarterback with game-changing ability, but the running game has been an area of development for the team in recent years.
The Packers ranked 20th in rushing yards and 25th in rushing touchdowns in 2012, a mark they want to improve upon in order to get back to the Super Bowl. Franklin, UCLA’s all-time leading rusher has the opportunity to be a big part of that. He has major ambitions — among them being mayor of Los Angeles after his playing days — and a winning attitude that’s carried him to the NFL as an undersized kid who started playing football on a whim.
He’s a player to watch, and a one-of-a-kind personality who represents the West Coast with class and pride. It looks like he’ll adjust to life in an NFL city that respects those values just fine.
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