OG Noah Franklin (Sue Ogrocki/AP)
Noah Franklin knows a thing or two about working his way up the ladder. He arrived at Oklahoma State in 2005 and didn't emerge as a full-time starter until last season. Now, he is back at the bottom and ready to start climbing again in Carolina. He takes Panthers fans along his journey in this exclusive interview.
When Noah Franklin became a full-time starter at left guard last season, he joined one of the top offensive lines in college football. LT Russell Okung was the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft by the Seattle Seahawks, while RT Brady Bond signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent.
"It was a great environment to grow as a player," Franklin said. "We had great coaches throughout my time there. Coach Rob Glass, our strength and conditioning coach, was a great influence on me and on my work ethic. And Coach Joe Wickline, our offensive line coach, was a great teacher who helped me grow in my game and helped me understand concepts that translate to the game as a whole."
Last season, the Cowboys led the Big 12 Conference in rushing with an average of 187.8 yards per game.
This season, Franklin is taking his run-blocking skills to another team that loves to pound the rock.
"I really like Carolina's style of play, the run-first mentality," he said. "The fact that this is a running team fits my style. The staff at OSU was so into instilling in us that concept of running the ball and establishing a tone for the game."
Even though Franklin is back on a college campus -- as the Panthers conduct camp at Wofford College -- he knows he is a long way from his college days.
He is now engaged in a day-to-day fight for his professional survival.
"It's very nerve-wracking being on a whole new level and trying to adapt to your surroundings and a new offense, even though it is similar to a lot of things we did at OSU," Franklin said. "There are a lot of different terminologies that we hadn't used. Also, just the learning curve and trying to catch up has been difficult. But I feel pretty good going into camp."
One reason Franklin feels good is the steadying presence of Carolina's veterans.
"The guys have been very supportive," he said. "They've been great to all the free agents. They are helping us understand the schedule and the pace of everything, as well as the game itself."
If there is one lesson the veterans have successfully imparted, it is not to take this opportunity for granted.
Franklin is certain to heed those words.
"I'm going in with the mindset that the Panthers are giving me a great opportunity," he said. "I need to be prepared for it. I have to go in and work harder than everybody else and keep sight of my goals. This chance only comes along once and I want to prove that I deserve to be out here."
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