At 24 years old, Johnathan Franklin’s career is already over.
UCLA’s all-time leading rusher will retire from the NFL after just one season, his career ended by a neck injury that sidelined him in Week 12 last year. The 5-foot-11 back was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 — lower than both he and many analysts expected — but was nonetheless overjoyed to head to the Green Bay Packers.
However, Franklin only carried the ball 19 times for a touchdown and 107 yards — 103 of which came in a Sept. 22 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“He will not be back with us,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Thursday. “I can’t say enough about him as a person. I don’t know. He’s as classy as anyone who’s walked through these doors. His situation will be addressed tomorrow.”
Franklin later tweeted that he was also ruled out from returning to the NFL.
— Johnathan Franklin (@JFrank2308) June 19, 2014
After originally arriving at UCLA as a safety, Franklin charted an unlikely path toward the top of the program’s record book. Shedding a fumbling habit that had plagued his college career, he turned himself into an All-American tailback under new head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone — collecting 13 touchdowns and a single-season record 1,734 yards. He was one of three Doak Walker Award finalists.
Franklin broke UCLA’s career rushing record in a 66-10 win over Arizona on Nov. 3, 2012, surpassing Gaston Green’s 25-year-old mark. He eventually finished the season with a 4,403 career yards, and also set the broke Maurice Jones-Drew’s career record with 4,936 all-purpose yards.
Known as “The Mayor” during his time on campus, the Dorsey High alum held aspirations toward the city’s top political office.