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Notre Dame loses interior DL depth with Ja’Mion Franklin transfer

Ian Book runs through Notre Dame's identity, talks about pressure during a pandemic, describes his relationship with Tommy Rees, explains what it means to vault up the statistics lists, and looks ahead to Clemson.

After setting himself up to be a rotation player as a freshman, quick injury prevented Ja’Mion Franklin from following up on that potential at Notre Dame. The junior defensive tackle has now entered the transfer portal, per reports.

Five snaps into his first Irish action, Franklin tore his quad in 2018, an injury that kept him out of 2019 spring practice but not out of 2019 entirely. He played in nine games as a sophomore, making four tackles. Franklin played in just one game in 2020, brief action in the blowout of South Florida, just before Notre Dame’s season was stalled by a coronavirus outbreak.

Rivals first reported Franklin’s intent to transfer.

As evidenced by his limited action this season, Franklin had fallen off the Irish depth chart. Senior Kurt Hinish has a firm grip on the starting role at nose tackle, and sophomore Jacob Lacey has proven adept rotating with Hinish. Sophomore Howard Cross has played in all five games this season, largely in mop-up duty, making four tackles. Given Lacey has as much eligibility remaining as Franklin, and Cross has more, looking elsewhere for future playing time makes some sense.

Not to be blunt or presumptive in a year undeserving of the first and unrewarding to the second, but Franklin’s greatest asset to Notre Dame had become the depth he provided, specifically in a season in which a position group can be diminished for two weeks at seemingly any point. In this instance, though, since the Irish defensive line was a noteworthy part of that September outbreak, it may no longer need “break glass in case of emergency” levels of depth.

In fact, Franklin was part of that outbreak, and per his updates on social media, he was symptomatic.

UPDATE: Thursday night, Franklin expounded on how COVID-19 has impacted him in a statement on Twitter, the illness playing a key role in his decision to end his season.

“The trials and tribulations of battling COVID-19, and not recovering to the level I expected to has clearly impacted me in a negative way,” Franklin said. “I have felt that I have lost control of my mental capacity, and I feel that I need to take time to gather and reevaluate myself. The process of rebuilding myself from the ground up is a much needed step in this stage of my life.”

No matter how Franklin’s career at Notre Dame has ended up, the most impressive part of the former three-star prospect remains his familial devotion displayed during his recruitment. When he signed with the Irish, his ability to shed blocks with quick hands and an explosive first step received some praise, but more went toward the selflessness displayed in donating stem cells to his father in mid-January of his senior year of high school while Franklin’s father fought leukemia.

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