9 Days: A Look Back At Dennis Franklin

With only nine days until the 2016 Michigan football season, we look back at Dennis  Franklin. The Ohio native came to Ann Arbor after an impressive high school career. Below are his highlights and achievements in all three levels.

High School

  • Franklin was quarterback of the 1970 Massillon High School Tigers football team.
  • With Franklin at quarterback, the Massillon Tigers outscored opponents, 412–29, and rushed for nearly 3,000 yards (including 363 yards by Franklin) in one season. Franklin also passed for 699 yards, 21.2 yards per completion and 13 touchdowns.
  • He ran an offense that played eight future NCAA Division I players, including Steve Luke (Ohio State Buckeyes), Larry Harper (Miami Redskins, now RedHawks), Mike Mauger (Wisconsin Badgers, Kent State Golden Flashes) and Willie Spencer (World Football League).
  • In July 2007, he was inducted into the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame.


  • After graduating from Massillon, Franklin wore #9 for the Michigan Wolverines football program from 1972 to 1974.
  • Franklin was a member of the Michigan teams coached by Bo Schembechler from 1971 to 1974 and was the starting quarterback from 1972 to 1974.
  • Under Franklin’s leadership at quarterback, Michigan tied with Ohio State for three consecutive Big Ten Conference titles from 1972 to 1974 and finished with 30 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.
  • Franklin was a First Team All Big Ten quarterback in 1974 and led the team in passing and total offense every year from 1972 to 1974, becoming the second player at Michigan since Tom Harmon to accomplish that feat for three consecutive years.
  • Franklin was voted team captain in 1974, was an Honorable Mention All American and finished sixth in the 1974 Heisman Trophy balloting.
  • Franklin also won the 1974 Meyer Morton award, given by the M Club of Chicago for the football player show shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of spring practice.
  • He won the 1972 John Maulbetsch Award, which is given to the freshman football candidate after spring practice on the basis of desire, character, capacity for leadership and future success both on and off the field.
  • Franklin is remembered for his role in the classic 1973 Michigan vs. Ohio State football game. When the teams met, both teams were unbeaten with Ohio State ranked No. 1, and Michigan No. 4. Michigan had outscored its opponents 320–58, Ohio State by a margin of 361–33. After an epic struggle, the game ended in a 10–10 tie.
  • Ohio State had gone to the Rose Bowl the year before, which normally would have given Michigan the tie-breaker edge. After some deliberation, the Big Ten athletic directors picked the Buckeyes that sparked much controversy around the league.


  • Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 1975 NFL Draft, Franklin converted to wide receiver for the 1975 NFL season. While Franklin was with Detroit, Greg Landry and Bill Munson were the Lions’ quarterbacks. Franklin had a brief NFL career that lasted nine games and that totaled six catches over two years.

After Football

  • After retiring from football, Franklin rose to vice president at King World Productions in New York City, a television distributor that produced Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and Oprah.
  • He now lives in Santa Monica, California and sells real estate.
  • Franklin’s son Kenny followed his father to Michigan and has aspired toward acting with appearances in Cosmopolitan and S.W.A.T..

Go Blue!

David Noe