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Craig Franklin always championed others to be hall of famers. Now it’s his turn.

Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Every high school athlete chases the four-year dream, but a decision to stay local and attend Pearl River ended up being one of the best that Craig Franklin ever made.

A JUCO All-Star, All-State selection and member of PRCC's 1971-72 football teams, Franklin will be enshrined in the Pearl River Community College Athletics Hall of Fame presented by Keith's Superstores on July 28. Joining Franklin in the 2023 class are baseball's Jim Murphy and Dr. Thomas Royals and women's basketball's Norma Noel. The 2023 recipient of the Spirit of a Wildcat Award is Francis Herrin.

"It's surreal. It's truly an honor to even be considered for the Hall of Fame, much less selected," Franklin said. "I played because I loved the game and wanted to be the best player and teammate I could be. I am tremendously excited and thrilled to be in that company."

BECOMING A WILDCAT Franklin was a star in nearly every sport in high school, but he knew he was most passionate about playing football. Staring as a linebacker for Picayune, he drew plenty of interest at the four-year level, receiving recruitment letters from the likes of Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU and more. Unfortunately for Franklin, a broken hand in the seventh game of his senior season forced him to miss the remainder of the season and resulted in teams backing off.

Despite the injury, Franklin was named First Team All-Big Eight and earned a spot in the Mississippi All-Star Game at the end of the year. After a successful time at the game, Franklin hoped he might still receive some looks from the four-year level, specifically Ole Miss, but didn't get the offers he sought. Luckily for Franklin, former Wildcat coach John Russell had remained in touch, and Franklin decided to give The River a shot.

"After the game, I contacted coach Russell and told him that if that scholarship offer still was available, I'd like to come to Pearl River," Franklin said. "He said absolutely and sent me the scholarship. I signed it and came to PRCC; it was the best decision I ever made. I loved Pearl River and wouldn't trade my two years there for anything."

GETTING TO THE RIVER Upon his arrival at Pearl River, Franklin mostly practiced at linebacker and tight end. Two games into the season, Russell called Franklin into his office and asked him to add another position to his repertoire and play defensive end. With Franklin rushing off the edge and playing some on the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats went on to win nine games, with their only loss coming to eventual National Champion Gulf Coast. PRCC wrapped up the year as the ninth-ranked team in the country.

The following season in 1972, it was primarily back to the offensive side of the ball for Franklin.

"We didn't have a true fullback during the spring, so they moved me there," he said. "I played as a fullback as my main position and featured as a goal line linebacker as my second position."

Franklin recalled two of his favorite memories from the year. The first was when he eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in a season-opening 40-10 victory over Holmes.

"I started the first game of the season as the fullback, and I gained a little over 100 yards and scored a touchdown," he said. "The touchdown run was from about 30 yards out. That helped spring me forward for the rest of the year. I knew what I was capable of doing."

Franklin also talked about his team's herculean effort against the reigning National Champions and the No. 1 team in the land, Gulf Coast. In the fourth game of the season, the Bulldogs entered Poplarville and raced out to a 21-6 lead over the Wildcats. PRCC stormed back in the game and narrowly edged the Bulldogs, 22-21.

"That win was a huge thing for our team and our morale," Franklin said. "I feel like it catapulted us for the rest of the season."

Catapult it did. With Franklin a significant part of the attack, Pearl River went on to win its final six games of the season to finish the year with a 9-1 record and a No. 5 ranking in the national poll. At season's end, he was named All-MACJC and was selected for the All-Star game in Tupelo. Franklin displayed his leadership abilities that week, which resulted in his teammates and coaches naming him one of the South team's captains.

Franklin and the South All-Stars went on to comfortably beat the North — he even found the end zone on the day.

"The touchdown play was called Y-Banana. I released outside of the defensive end and ran parallel with the sideline," he said. "Our quarterback threw me the pass, and it was probably a 30-yard touchdown. We ran a similar play later in the game that I caught for a 25-yard gain. I got tackled just short of the endzone. I still remember those plays like they happened earlier today."

AFTER THE RIVER When his time as a Wildcat ended, Franklin signed to continue his career at the next level with Southeastern Louisiana. Although he signed as a fullback, the Lions moved him to tight end, where he starred for the next two seasons.

Upon graduation, he returned to Picayune and eventually began working for Stennis Space Center, where he retired.

Franklin remains an avid PRCC supporter and once presided over the Wildcat Club to help ensure that future athletes had a first-class PRCC experience. In 2022, Franklin served as an honorary captain for the spring game.

Always a proponent and champion of others' inductions into the PRCC Athletics Hall of Fame, Franklin now gets to don a maroon jacket of his own.

CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS Pearl River Community College recently started a tradition of honoring past championship teams at its annual Athletics Hall of Fame banquet. This year, PRCC is recognizing five championship anniversaries.

This year's recognized teams will be the 2002-03 women's basketball team that won the Region 23 championship; the 2002-03 men's basketball team that won the MACJC title; the 2012-13 men's and women's soccer teams that won both the MACJC and Region 23; as well as the 2012-13 men's basketball team that claimed the MACJC Championship.

Members of the championship teams who would like to join in the festivities are asked to contact PRCC Coordinator of Alumni Services, Mary Alice Chandler, at or 601-403-1193 to receive 25% off their tickets.

BANQUET TICKETING Tickets for the banquet and golf tournament are ONLY available in advance, either by visiting or by contacting Coordinator of Alumni Services Mary Alice Chandler at or 601-403-1193.

PRCC has unveiled a tiered banquet ticketing schedule for the 2023 ceremony.

Between June 1-30, tickets are $125. Tickets purchased between July 1-13 are $150.

No tickets will be sold after July 13. Guests will not be able to purchase tickets at the door.

Anyone who registers early for tickets will receive information on discounted room rates at the Hollywood Casino for July 27-28.

GOLF TOURNAMENT The PRCC Athletics Hall of Fame golf tournament will once again feature a four-person scramble format. Teams of four are $600.

The number of golf teams is limited and often sells out quickly. Ensure your team gets to chase glory and compete for bragging rights by registering early.

PREVIOUS INDUCTEES Previous inductees who are planning to attend the banquet are encouraged to contact Mary Alice Chandler at or 601-403-1193 to provide their jacket sizes. Deadline to submit jacket information is June 1, 2023.

Anyone who registers after the deadline can pickup their jackets at the 2024 ceremony.

SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION Sponsorship packages are available for both the banquet and golf tournament.

The banquet has two tiers of sponsorships, the $2,500 Maroon Sponsorship and the $5,000 Gold Sponsorship.

The Maroon Sponsorship includes eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets, two rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino and advertising at the banquet; the Gold Sponsorship features one four-person golf team, four rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino, eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets and advertising at the banquet.

There are several sponsorship opportunities for the golf tournament as well. PRCC is offering $100 hole sponsorships (which include a 24x18 sign next to the tee box), $300 longest drive or closest to the pin sponsorships, $500 awards ceremony sponsorship and $500 beverage sponsorship.

PRCC is also accepting items for the silent auction and food for the golf tournament.

To secure your sponsorship package or donate to the event, contact Mary Alice Chandler at or 601-403-1193.

HOW TO NOMINATE Know a former Wildcat who you believe should be considered in the future? Nominate by visiting or visiting and clicking the nomination form link at the top of the page.

For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on Twitter (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).



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