North Carolina A&T has become a hotbed for HBCU talent for the NFL. Franklin McCain III is ready to be added to the Aggies streak as the only FCS program to have a player drafted in three consecutive years. Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen has electrified, being selected as a First Team All-Pro in 2018. Now there’s a new name in Greensboro being discussed in football circles. McCain III is the biggest HBCU prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. He is also the heir apparent to a legendary name.
Word on the street in Greensboro is that Franklin McCain III prefers to be called “Mac”. It’s a nickname that’s stuck with him. On North Carolina A&T’s campus, the McCain name holds weight, and Mac is reminded of it every time he walks past his grandfather’s statue.
The McCain Name
As a freshman in 1960, Franklin McCain and three friends sat in at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s department store. This was the Civil Rights Era, and this group of young men were determined to do something in the fight against segregation. For several days, the quartet sat at the counter refusing to leave despite being refused service despite threats from many, including North Carolina Ku Klux Klan chaplain George Dorsett.
With what started as four young men on February 1, ended on July 25 with Woolworth having black employees end the sit-ins by having an order taken at the counter. After more than $200,000 in losses, Woolworth de-segregated the Greensboro location and many other locations followed. McCain and his friends, who would go on to be recognized as the Greensboro Four, etched their names in history.
Their story is in schoolbooks and museums across the globe. In 2002, McCain, David Richmond, Ezell Blair and Joseph McNeil were honored by A&T with 10-foot statues on the west-end of the campus. Imagine having to live up to that as you pass your grandfather’s statue daily on campus.
Franklin McCain III on the field
After red-shirting as a freshman, Franklin McCain III made an immediate impact in 2017. Starting all 12 games, McCain recorded 50 tackles, 14 pass deflections and 6 interceptions. Of the six, three interceptions were returned for a touchdown. He finished the season earning MVP honors in the Celebration Bowl as A&T defeated Grambling State 21-14. McCain recorded four tackles and an interception. This earned McCain All-MEAC First-Team honors as well as FCS Freshman All-American honors from Phil Steele.
Injuries ended the 2018 season prematurely for McCain, suffering an ACL tear against Bethune Cookman on October 20. Despite seeing his sophomore season cut short, the redshirt sophomore had several excellent performances. In a 28-23 upset of East Carolina, McCain took an interception for a 100-yard touchdown. In eight games, he finished the season with 37 tackles, 10 pass deflections and 2 interceptions. This was good enough to land him on the All MEAC First-Team and Hero Sports FCS Preseason All-American Team for the 2019 season.
— PFDZ (@PFDZ44) September 22, 2018
The Year Ahead
You don’t just get placement in the Phil Steele Magazine for being decent, especially when coming from an HBCU. Players like NFL Defensive Rookie of The Year Darius Leonard and the aforementioned Cohen are forcing the NFL to look at HBCU’s once again. A&T has become an NFL factory as of late, and Franklin McCain III looks like a sure thing.
That’s all barring how well he recovers from his ACL tear of course. The Aggies will surely need him, with a stacked schedule. In week 1, A&T faces the Elon Phoenix, and McCain will be looked to stick star receiver Cole Taylor. The next week, A&T travels to Durham to take on Duke University on the ACC Network. McCain has stepped up against well-known opponents in the past like Charlotte and East Carolina, so this should be no different. As for MEAC play, McCain will be looked upon to shut down Howard’s Jequez Ezzard, who we highlighted last week, and Norfolk State’s Isaiah Winstead.
The McCain’s have overcome adversity, it just runs in the genes. Franklin McCain III is ready to live out his name by battling back from injury and becoming an NFL Draft selection.