Menlo-Atherton wide receiver Troy Franklin an elite recruit

Editor’s note: This is part of our monthlong football previews of teams and players.

ATHERTON — How does Troy Franklin deal with all the hype?

The 6-foot-2½, 180-pound Menlo-Atherton junior is the No. 10 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2021, according to 247Sports.

Eight teams out of the Pac-12 already offered the wide receiver a scholarship, including Oregon, USC and Washington.

Alabama, Iowa State, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas also intend to entice the four-star recruit into a commitment.

That’s quite a bit for a 16-year-old.

“I just pretty much try to handle it the best way I can,” said Franklin, who this summer took unofficial visits to five Pac-12 schools. “The recruiting process is really hard, but you’ve just got to prioritize your time. It’s pretty much about talking to the coaches, building a relationship and you’ve got to be real with yourself. If you really don’t want to go to that college, you’ve got to let the coach know.”

Franklin, the No. 2-rated player in the Bay Area Preps HQ’s Fab 40 list, lives for the moment.

He scored eight of his 17 touchdowns during a five-game postseason stretch en route to the program’s first state title.

In the Central Coast Section Open Division I championship game, Franklin caught an 11-yard TD as M-A erased a 21-point deficit against Wilcox — the go-ahead score with under four minutes left a 17-yard run by who else? Yes, Franklin.

A week later, after traveling over 300 miles north, Franklin caught three passes for 116 yards and a pair of TDs, while also rushing for a 70-yard score in a 27-20 victory over Eureka.

His lone catch in a 21-7 triumph over Lincoln-San Diego in the state title game? A 50-yard touchdown.

“I’ve always thought he was smooth and could run by people because he’s long and fast,” said first-year M-A coach Steve Papin, who took over in April after Adhir Ravipati stepped away. “But when you watch his athleticism and you watch the way he works and gets in and out of his breaks in practice, it was a shock. Especially with him being so young.”

Franklin will even roam the secondary at times, such as against Terra Nova a year ago when he recorded a pair of interceptions, including a 99-yard pick-six.

“We feel that we’re going to play him both ways when needed,” Papin said. “Without giving away a secret, against Folsom he’s going to play defense.”

His main role, though, is on offense.

It’s what he focused on during offseason workouts and 7-on-7 camps.

“Pretty much learning the technique and learning the receiver position as a whole,” Franklin said. “Reading defenses, getting in and out of breaks, and just being a smooth, flawless route runner.”

Menlo-Atherton’s wide receiver Troy Franklin catches a 26-yard pass and scores a touchdown against Palo Alto cornerback Damion Richard-valencia during the second quarter of the Central Coast Section Open Division I semifinal at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California, on Saturday, November 24, 2018. Menlo-Atherton defeated Palo Alto 17-7. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) 

During practices at M-A, he’ll be tested on every rep by a talented secondary that features Justin Anderson, Treavon Norton and Skyler Thomas.

“It’s just to give each other a workout,” said Anderson, who appeared at No. 12 on the Bay Area Preps HQ’s Fab 40 list. “It’s all just fun and games at the end of the day, but during practice we like to compete with each other and we both know that it’s going help both of us in the long run.”

The Bears lost inside linebacker Daniel Heimuli and two-way lineman Noa Ngalu to the Pac-12 — both freshmen at Washington.

While the culture established by Ravipati persists, a new coaching staff seeks to up the tempo on the field.

Plenty of questions abound as M-A will be tested by nonleague foes such as Serra (2017 state champ), Folsom (’14, ’17, ’18 state champ) and East of Salt Lake City (won at De La Salle in 2016).

“Everybody thinks that we’re going to lose all of our games or whatever, because we’re going to have a tough season,” Franklin said. “With us losing Noa, Daniel, those guys in our senior class, and then losing our coaching staff, people think we’re going to be limping into league with our schedule.

“So we’ve got something to prove. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder.”

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