Virginia safety Tony Franklin fully participated in Friday’s first fall practice.
When Virginia wrapped up practice late Friday night outside of the McCue Center, one player was at the center of the media’s attention – Tony Franklin. The senior safety was dismissed from the team prior to the spring practice period and at the time, he was not expected to return. However, Franklin met with coach Al Groh and worked his way back on to the team. Without question, he’s happy to be wearing the orange and blue again.
“I’ve just missed being out here because I love my teammates and love my team. Being away for a while hurt me inside. I’m just grateful to be back and to have a second opportunity,” Franklin said. “I’m grateful that Coach Groh, Craig Littlepage, and the administration gave me a second chance to show what I stand for. There are things in the past that I want to put behind me.”
Franklin was dismissed for an undisclosed violation of team rules at the same time that former Cavaliers Vince Redd and Ahmad Brooks were dismissed. Brooks has since joined the NFL ranks, while Redd is expected to play at Grambling. For Franklin, news surfaced late in the spring that may be reinstated to UVa’s team if he completed some necessary steps (neither Franklin nor Groh disclosed what those steps were).
While Franklin has worked his way back on the team, but his spot on the depth chart is not known. Three safeties had Orange jerseys (symbolic of starters) on Friday – Franklin was not one of them. He knows that means he has to keep working in order to earn playing time now that he’s earned his way back on the team.
“I wouldn’t say easy motivation because those guys have earned their spots and I’m just here trying to work hard and earn my spot,” Franklin said.
Fontel Mines was one of four Cavaliers to visit VintonVaHoo this week at the hospital.
As first mentioned on the football message board this week, a Sabre poster was injured this week in a lake accident while at work. VintonVaHoo suffered some burns from the accident and was transferred to the University of Virginia Hospital for treatment. During the week, four Cavalier football players stopped by after hearing about the accident.
“It’s one of those kinds of things that given the focus on lots of other events that take place, [these things] seem not to become known to balance things out. There was a young man who had a jet ski accident on Smith Mountain Lake and suffered some significant injuries. Some of the players – Chris Olsen , Fontel Mines , Deyon Williams , Marcus Hamilton – became aware of it and he’s since come to Charlottesville for treatment and they went over to see him,” Groh said.
“It’s just symbolic of so many players on the team and so many athletes who show a great compassion and caring for people. They didn’t do it to get any publicity for it and you don’t do those things to come out and broadcast them. I am aware of it. It wasn’t something that I was going to bring up today but since you brought it up I certainly wouldn’t tell you that it didn’t occur. It’s a credit to them,” Groh added.
Virginia fans shouldn’t be all that surprised with the players’ actions, though. Cavalier players and coaches are often involved with that sort of support for fans and others at UVa Hospital – it just doesn’t get the press that so many other off-field incidents receive.
“We’ve had a lot of other occurrences of that nature too. If I sat here and told you all the players that should get credit for that, it would probably sound like General Hospital,” Groh said. “But it was really a great gesture on their part and as much as the camp schedule allows, we’re going to try to keep up with it. As a matter of fact, we have a couple of other cases of that nature too that members of the staff and members of the team are paying attention to.”
Yards After the Catch …
- The Orange jerseys went to 12 players including Nate Lyles . The other 11: CB – Marcus Hamilton, Chris Gorham ; S – Nate Lyles , Jamaal Jackson and Byron Glaspy (3 safeties in Orange jerseys); LB – Clint Sintim , Antonio Appleby , Jon Copper, Jermaine Dias ; NG – Allen Billyk ; DE – Jeffrey Fitzgerald and Chris Long .
- The first-team offensive line appeared to be (and on Day 1, a lot of people get reps) Eugene Monroe , Branden Albert , Ian-Yates Cunningham , Marshall Ausberry, and Eddie Pinigis.
- Keith Payne is an absolute monster. His size was truly impressive for a freshman.
- Overheard: Mike Groh said early in practice that “The intensity leaves a lot to be desired right now. … Who we think we are right now is beyond me.” The good news about that? It was very early in practice with an isolated group. Things picked up from there.
- Isaac Cain , a walk-on, spent much of practice running around the edge of the field for conditioning.
- Freshman offensive lineman B.J. Cabbell walked around the perimeter for a while in order to help that looked like an injury. His leg had one of those Allen Iverson/Kobe Bryant sleeves on it.
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