John Franklin III had one of college football’s most winding careers.
A onetime blue-chip quarterback commit at Florida State, Franklin transferred out of Tallahassee and played one season in junior college at East Mississippi. There, he was one of the stars of the Netflix reality show Last Chance U. He made subsequent stops at Auburn and FAU, making him the rare college player to suit up for four different teams.
Franklin claimed in February that he’d posted an astonishing 40 time.
Franklin is now preparing for the NFL draft as a wide receiver, a position he played in patches in college. If you believe Franklin and his trainer, he just ran the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded in a football workout: 4.19 seconds.
The video appears to be recent. It was posted Feb. 22, and the man who posted it is a private trainer, Travis Shelton, and not a staffer at FAU.
The fastest official 40 time ever at the NFL Scouting Combine is 4.22 seconds, achieved in 2017 by Washington receiver and eventual Bengals pick John Ross.
But since then, Franklin has been timed running slower (but still pretty fast) 40s.
Franklin didn’t get an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but he did participate in the smaller National Scouting Combine. He ran a 4.44-second 40 as timed by lasers, and a 4.32 as measured by a hand-timed stopwatch, per the event’s records.
Then, at FAU’s pro day on Tuesday, he ran an even 4.40:
“I wish it were better conditions,” Franklin said after his workout concluded. “It would have been an even better time. Everybody was kind of shifting with the wind pushing against us. Overall, I feel like I ran well.”
A 4.4 is still really fast! It is not an all-time number like a 4.19. But it puts Franklin in the ballpark of the fastest players in the draft anyway.
40 times are notoriously iffy, in general.
They’re not always timed the same, with some runs using lasers to precisely measure a sprinter’s start and finish, others only using a laser on one end, and others not using one at all. The fastest reported 40 ever by a football player is Bo Jackson’s 4.12 at the 1986 Combine, but that was probably fully hand-timed and isn’t treated as an official number.
I don’t know if Franklin’s 4.19 time was real, because a) I don’t know if any 40 time is real, and b), the video angle we have of this run isn’t great. But I do know that if Franklin did it once, he didn’t repeat it when he was being timed by a bunch of other people.