All-Conference USA WR Franklin transferring to Ole Miss

Zakhari Franklin is headed to Ole Miss after back-to-back seasons as a first-team All-Conference USA wide receiver.

Published on Monday, 6/5/23, at 8:27 a.m. Eastern.

Ole Miss has dipped into the transfer portal once again to score an impact player. The Rebels landed a commitment over the weekend from ex-UTSA wide receiver Zakhari Franklin, who had 94 receptions for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Roadrunners in 2022.

In four seasons at UTSA from 2019-22, Franklin caught 262 balls for 3,348 yards and 37 TDs. He was already the program’s all-time leader in career receiving yards – by nearly 600 yards – going into last year. Franklin ranks 10th in Conference USA history (dating back to 1996) in career receiving yards and 11th in career catches.

In terms of transfer-specific imports in its 2023 recruiting class, Ole Miss is ranked fifth nationally at 247Sports. The Rebels have the No. 19 class overall. They have 19 incoming transfers and Franklin is the eighth four-star transfer in the group.

Lane Kiffin added two QBs via the portal, ex-Oklahoma St. Cowboy Spencer Sanders and former LSU signal caller Walker Howard, who are competing for the job with last year’s starter, Jaxson Dart. Franklin joins two other four-star transfer WRs in Chris Marshall (Texas A&M) and Tre Harris (La. Tech).

As a freshman in 2019, Franklin had 38 receptions for 491 yards and three TDs. Then in 2020, he had 49 catches for 694 yards and seven TDs.

Franklin garnered first-team All-Conference USA honors in 2021 when he hauled in 81 receptions for 1,027 yards and 12 TDs.

In his first season at Ole Miss after transferring from USC, Dart completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,974 yards with a 20/11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also had 614 rushing yards, one TD and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average.

Sanders ranks second in Oklahoma St. history in career passing yards (9,553) behind only Mason Rudolph (13,618). He also has 1,956 career rushing yards and 18 TDs.

Sanders was a first-team All-Big-12 selection in 2021 when he led the Cowboys to the Big 12 Championship Game. He threw for 2,839 yards with a 20/12 TD-INT ratio, in addition to rushing for 668 yads and six TDs.

Sanders has a 61.0 career completion percentage and a 67/40 career TD-INT ratio. He led Mike Gundy’s team to a 5-0 start last season before injuring his shoulder in Week 5. Playing through the pain, Sanders and the Cowboys lost a 43-40 decision at TCU in double overtime.

They bounced back to beat Texas 41-34 the following the week, but the rest of the season was a struggle. Sanders sat out the team’s last two games due the shoulder injury.

FanDuel has Ole Miss with a season win total of 7.5 (‘over’ -134, ‘under +110). The Rebels have 45/1 odds to win the SEC and 100/1 odds to win the College Football Playoff.

Kiffin’s team is currently off the board for its season opener against FCS foe, Mercer. FanDuel has Ole Miss as a 1.5-point road underdog at Mississippi St. in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night.

DraftKings has the Rebels listed as 15.5-point road underdogs at Alabama on Sept. 23. They’re 4.5-point underdogs vs. LSU, 3.5-point home ‘chalk’ vs. Texas A&M, 19.5-point road underdogs at Georgia and 1.5-point road favorites at Mississippi St.


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