Words By Lewis Flanagan III
Name: Zakhari Franklin
Player Number: #4
Position: Wide Receiver
College: University of Texas San Antonio
High School: Cedar Hill High School
Prior to this season, if you had mentioned to anyone that the University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners were ranked among the nation’s best programs, they would have likely suggested that you live under a rock. Now, a little more than seven weeks in, you would have to be living under that rock not to know that UTSA cracked the Top 25 behind a Conference USA-leading and undefeated 7-0 record.
In prime position to become the football season’s Cinderella team of 2021, the Roadrunners gain new fans every game with their unique balance of small school spirit and major program play. That lightning-in-a-bottle style can’t be better personified than in junior wide receiver, Zakhari Franklin.
You likely recall Franklin as a key figure in Cedar Hill’s 2018 state championship campaign, catching 23 passes for 687 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Though the Longhorns fell disappointingly short of their goal, it was abundantly clear that head coach Carlos Lynn had found All-District talent — who also competed as a member of Cedar Hill’s basketball and track teams — in the athletic wideout.
Franklin’s fast start at the collegiate level seemed to fly under the radar. Almost instantly becoming an integral part of the Roadrunner offense in his true-freshman year, he found himself among the team’s leaders in receiving, tying for the team lead in receptions (38), but coming second in yards by only one (491) once the dust cleared.
It was evident that Zakhari Franklin meant business. He missed two games to start the following season, but still worked his way to a program single-season yardage record, logging 694 yards and becoming second in touchdown receptions in program history.
Business also happens to be exactly what the 6-foot standout turns his focus to when away from the football field. Franklin has declared Business as his major and has committed his lunch pail practice field praxis to his study. Though undecided on where he plans to take his degree, once he and it cross paths, Franklin will surely rise to the occasion.
Those who have crossed paths with Zakhari Franklin this season have found themselves with a front row seat to his receiving clinic. He has already hauled in 40 Frank Harris passes for more than 450 yards and four touchdowns, including a season-long 33 yarder against Middle Tennessee.
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No matter where the road ends for UTSA, the 2021 season has already been one like no other. Though the Roadrunners could pause and reflect on their newfound success, they show neither signs nor intent to do so. It is clear that the goal for this University of Texas San Antonio team is far beyond the horizon of the regular season and Zakhari Franklin has the discipline, strength and speed to put a large portion on his shoulders — and to carry UTSA into top-tier bowl contention.