Bobby Ray Franklin Named to 2008 SEC Legends Class


ATLANTA, Ga. -- Bobby Ray Franklin, who helped lead Ole Miss to three straight bowl victories and a share of the 1959 national championship while playing quarterback for Coach John Vaught's Rebels from 1957 to 1959, will be one of 12 Southeastern Conference Football Legends honored here this weekend when Alabama and Florida clash for the 2008 SEC football championship.
Other former players to be recognized include quarterback Bart Starr of Alabama, defensive end Billy Ray Smith of Arkansas, kicker Al Del Greco of Auburn, running back Errict Rhett of Florida, quarterback Eric Zeier of Georgia, offensive lineman/linebacker Irv Goode of Kentucky, offensive tackle Lance Smith of LSU, center Tom Goode of Mississippi State, free safety Brad Edwards of South Carolina, head coach Doug Dickey of Tennessee and linebacker Shelton Quarles of Vanderbilt.
The AT&T SEC Legends Dinner is set for Friday night at 6:00 in the Centennial Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency. The legends will also be presented during the Dr Pepper SEC FanFare on Saturday at the Georgia World Congress Center and during pregame ceremonies at the Georgia Dome.
"We are honored to have Bobby Ray Franklin represent Ole Miss as one of the 2008 Legends of SEC Football," said Athletics Director Pete Boone. "Bobby Ray was a leader both on and off the field during his days at Ole Miss and then went on to have a great career as a player in the National Football League before enjoying an outstanding coaching career."
Previous Ole Miss players selected as SEC Legends of Football include tailback Charlie Conerly (1994), end Barney Poole (1995), Coach John Vaught (1996), running back Kayo Dottley (1997), quarterback Archie Manning (1998), fullback Charlie Flowers (1999), lineman-kicker Robert Khayat (2000), end Ray Poole (2001), defensive lineman Ben Williams (2002), running back Billy Ray Adams (2003), end Allen Brown (2004), defensive tackle Andre Townsend (2005), quarterback Jake Gibbs (2006) and tight end Wesley Walls (2007).
A native of Clarksdale, Miss., Franklin earned three letters while playing for Vaught as Ole Miss went 28-4-1, including 10-1 in 1959 when the Rebels were named National Champions by four different ratings systems and were selected "Southeastern Conference Team of the Decade" (1950-59).
Franklin earned second team All-SEC honors and honorable mention All-America from United Press International in 1958 and played in the Chicago All-Star Game in 1960. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 1958 Gator Bowl when the Rebels defeated Florida 7-3 and was also MVP of the 1960 Sugar Bowl as Ole Miss beat LSU 21-0 to avenge an earlier 7-3 loss to the Tigers on Halloween Night. He completed 10 of 15 pass for 148 yards and two TDs in the Sugar Bowl rematch with the Tigers and scored on a three-yard run in the 1958 Sugar Bowl victory over Texas.
Voted to the All-Time Sugar Bowl Team from 1955-62, Franklin completed 83 of 187 passes for 1,119 yards and 14 TDs during his Ole Miss career, had 1,589 yards of total offense (470 yards rushing and 1,589 passing on 322 total plays), had a career punting average of 34.7 yards on 44 punts and accounted for 23 TDs. As a junior in 1958, Franklin led the SEC in TD passes with 10 and total TDs with 16.
Franklin, who also earned four letters in track at Ole Miss and ran the 100 yard dash in :09.9, was selected in the 11th round of the 1960 National Football League draft by the Cleveland Browns and was also chosen by the San Diego Chargers in the 1960 American Football League draft. He played seven years (1960-66) as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns.
As a rookie for the Browns in 1960, he was second in the NFL in pass interceptions with eight, returning two for TDs in one game, which tied the NFL record. In his capacity of kick-holder, he also had a TD rush on a fake field goal. Franklin played in 86 games with the Browns and had 13 pass interceptions for 187 yards, returning two for TDs. He also recovered five fumbles during pro career, averaged 11.4 yards on five kickoff returns, and averaged 30.8 yards on five punt returns. He played on the 1964 team which defeated Baltimore 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game and 1965 squad which lost 23-12 to Green Bay in NFL Championship Game.
Following his career in the NFL, Franklin returned to his native Mississippi and in 1979 became an assistant football coach at Northwest (Miss.) Community College. He was named head coach of the Rangers in 1981, beginning a remarkable JUCO coaching career as he became one of the winningest junior college coaches in history by compiling a 201-56-6 overall record.
He led Northwest to 24 consecutive winning seasons, six Region 23 championships, six MACJC state titles, 12 North Division crowns and eight bowl games. His 1982 and 1992 Ranger football teams won NJCAA National Championships.
Franklin was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, the Northwest C.C. Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 and the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2005. He received the Distinguished American Award in 1994 from the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
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