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Dartmouth football freshman a stand-up guy

  • Incoming Dartmouth football freshman Carson Franks (11) playing in an undated photograph. Courtesy Jacob Will/Caleb Craig

  • Incoming Dartmouth College freshman football defensive back Carson Franks lines up at defensive back for State College (Pa.) High in an undated photograph. Courtesy Jacob Will/Caleb Craig

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/26/2021 11:00:06 PM
Modified: 6/26/2021 11:00:06 PM

When fall high school sports in State College, Pa., were in jeopardy last August because of COVID-19, Carson Franks took initiative.

The incoming Dartmouth College football freshman and State College High football captain worked with captains from other teams to write a letter to the school board advocating for high school sports. Franks later spoke in front of the board — virtually — to further drive his points home.

He talked about how much football meant to him, but he also pushed for all sports and activities. The same night, after Franks spoke, the school board voted to allow high school sports to go forward.

Franks was proud of himself when he finished talking.

“Doing that’s not easy, and being vulnerable to, like, all those people isn’t easy,” Franks said. “But I thought it was really important for what I had to say. And I thought that I did a pretty good job being a leader for my team.”

His high school head coach, Matt Lintal, watched that night and said Franks showed great professionalism and that it was heartwarming to see him support so many others, not just football.

Franks said he feels naturally comfortable in a leadership role and that he’s often put in positions where others look up to him. He’s more of a quiet leader, preferring to lead by example and leave the screaming and hollering to others.

“I just always do the right thing, even if it’s not asked of me,” Franks said. “I’ve always put in, like, the extra work. I basically set an example, as my coach said, of what it looks like to work hard in the classroom and on the field. So I don’t do it because I feel like I have to. It’s just what I do.”

On the football field, Franks, a safety, was a late bloomer. He started his high school career as a small wide receiver before he moved to the secondary.

Lintal noticed a clear difference in comparing Franks’ eighth grade and freshman year film to clips of his senior year. Lintal said Franks’ improvement was both because of a growth spurt during high school but also because of his strong work ethic.

He praised Franks’ speed and intelligence.

“He’s a very knowledgeable kid. Sometimes you get book-smart kids that aren’t football-smart kids, and he’s got knowledge in all areas,” Lintal said. “He understands the game extremely well. He prepares himself extremely well. I think his ability to come downhill as a tackler is really his best attribute. He’s a physical tackler that can make plays in space. He’s got a confidence to do it.”

Franks refined his speed outside of football. He was also successful in high school track, qualifying for the state meet in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 4x100m relay.

Because of a shortened football season, as well as a back injury, Franks didn’t feel like he showcased his speed on the football field as much as he’s capable of.

“I think over the track season, I really developed my speed through the workouts and all the training, and I was really consistent with it, so now I have this speed I didn’t have before,” he said. “I’m really hoping to, like, be able to cover more sideline to sideline, be able to run down my players who bring more stuff like that.”

Franks also played basketball, which helped his ball skills when he played wide receiver and helped his man-to-man skills defensively. He admires Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu and, in some ways, tries to emulate his game.

Lintal added that Franks’ best football is still ahead of him. He said Dartmouth is getting a player who will continue to steadily improve throughout his career.

Franks said he’s bringing size and athleticism to Hanover, but he knows that many players moving up from high school football to the college level say the same thing. What sets him apart, he feels, is his consistency.

“I don’t think I ever messed up a coverage this year (or) really made a mistake,” Franks said. “I can’t remember a time that I did that.

“And when I was elected for an all-star selection, I was labeled my team’s most consistent player. So I always just do my job and I do it pretty well. And I think they’re also getting a guy with a high football IQ and who can read the field really well.”

Seth Tow can be reached at

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