Newcomer Profile: RB Samuel Franklin Relishing a New 'Challenge' at Oklahoma

After an explosive season at Tennessee-Martin, running back Samuel Franklin couldn't turn down the prospect of learning under DeMarco Murray.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

NORMAN — There’s not much that intimidates Sam Franklin

Oklahoma’s new running back by way of Tennesse-Martin shredded the FCS level, now he’s ready to tackle the SEC. 

Franklin rushed for 1,386 yards and 11 scores a year ago. He had four carries of 60 yards or more and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. 

The year prior he averaged 8.0 yards per attempt, finishing with 676 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 85 touches. 

Stepping into OU’s offense this spring, Franklin was undaunted by the change. 

“It’s always a transition when you’re going to a different school but you know really overall it’s just been a great experience,” he said last month. “Learning the offense has been very easy. Football is gonna be football at the end of the day, it’s just different terminology, picking up that lingo.”

The portal process was straightforward for Franklin.

After showing he belonged at UT-Martin, he wanted to excel on a bigger stage. 

“It was really to just have a fresh start,” he said. “Just really challenge myself again.”

When the opportunity with the Sooners arose, specifically the chance to learn from OU running backs coach DeMarco Murray, Franklin simply couldn’t pass up the move to Norman.

“(He’s) one of the best running backs I can say that ever played this game,” Franklin said of Murray. “… I just want to learn from that. What was his regiments every day and what made him who he is and put that into my game and elevate my game even more.”

While he works on his craft in Norman, Franklin is also mentoring his younger brother. 

WATCH: Oklahoma RB Sam Franklin Media Day Interview

Chris Franklin is a redshirt freshman who stayed behind with the Seahawks after his older brother transferred. 

Sam Franklin is excited to pass along not only his knowledge of his hold playbook to his younger brother, but any other tips or tricks he learns under Murray.

“He’s the running back there,” Sam Franklin said. “Keeping up with him, teaching him the ropes of that playbook and giving him the little nuggets that he can do to elevate his game in that playbook. And I really can’t wait to see him play, too, this upcoming season.”

Franklin leans on his entire family: his parents, both of his brothers and his sister. Not only does he draw upon them for support, but they keep him motivated to keep working hard every day. 

"Family is really everything to me,” he said. “I bust my butt off for these moments for my family. … Playing the game that I love and fell in love with as a young'un and just really play good for them. That’s really what I want to do.”

There’s plenty of competition for snaps in Murray’s running back room, including some established veterans in front of Franklin. 

Gavin Sawchuk closed 2023 in style, rushing for 744 yards and nine touchdowns after taking the first half of last season to get back healthy. 

Jovantae Barnes is trying to put an injury-riddled sophomore season behind him to return to form. He flashed behind Eric Gray in 2022, rushing for 519 yards and five touchdowns on 116 carries as a true freshman.

Kalib Hicks also returns after spending most of 2023 developing behind the scenes. 

But Franklin has still found ways to impress this spring. 

“Sammy — he’s been doing some really, really good things and had several explosive plays,” OU coach Brent Venables said last week. 

Franklin believes the depth at running back will help bring the best out of everybody, and that it will prompt co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell to let the running backs play a number of different roles throughout 2024. 

“We’ve got a lot of talent in that room,” Franklin said. “… We’re pushing to be the best group on the field at any time so when Coach Seth wants to put two backs in he knows that we all can do everything on the field that he wants us to do.”

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Ryan Chapman


Ryan is deputy editor at AllSooners and covers a number of sports in and around Norman and Oklahoma City. Working both as a journalist and a sports talk radio host, Ryan has covered the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, the Oklahoma City Energy and more. Since 2019, Ryan has simultaneously pursued a career as both a writer and a sports talk radio host, working for the Flagship for Oklahoma sports, 107.7 The Franchise, as well as Ryan serves as a contributor to The Franchise’s website,, which was recognized as having the “Best Website” in 2022 by the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. Ryan holds an associate’s degree in Journalism from Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, OK.