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Why Zakhari Franklin is a fit for Illinois Football



Why Zakhari Franklin is a fit for Illinois Football
Dec 2, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; UTSA Roadrunners wide receiver Zakhari Franklin (4) runs for a touchdown in the second half against the North Texas Mean Green at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

UTSA’s Zakhari Franklin is in the transfer portal. He should be a target for Illinois Football.

Recently, UTSA’s star wide receiver, Zakhari Franklin announced that he will be entering the transfer portal. Franklin put up a monster 93 catches for 1137 yards last year for the UTSA roadrunners. Franklin is likely looking for a more prominent stage to showcase his talents. Franklin will have one year of eligibility wherever he chooses to go and will certainly be in high demand. The 6 foot 1 Texas native would be an absolutely monster get for Illinois Football.

The Fit for Illinois Football.

First and foremost, Zakhari Franklin has a prior relationship with current offensive coordinator, Barry Lunney Jr. Lunney Jr was the offensive coordinator at UTSA prior to Illinois and recruiting Franklin would be familiar territory. During Franklin’s junior season, He put up 81 catches for 1027 yards. This impressive stat-line includes a monstrous 10 receptions for 155 yards against Illinois.

Franklin combined for 27 touchdowns these past two years and could certainly bolster the Illinois receiver corps as a legitimate red-zone target. Outside of Isaiah Williams, Illinois Football will be heavily relying on Pat Bryant and Casey Washington as the perimeter options. Franklin could give Illinois a nice one-year plug as young players like Shawn Miller, Eian Pugh and Ashton Hollins develop.

A big time recruitment.

Given Zakhari Franklin’s outstanding stats, a plethora of programs will be in the mix. Franklin is a Texas native who played four years at UTSA. Given this, I assume a Texas college powerhouse will be after him. Illinois has the opportunity and familiarity factor with Lunney, however this will be an uphill battle. Illinois has not had too much of a recent history of receivers in the NFL. Additionally, it really is tough to outsell any of the powerhouses in Texas due to their winning history and NIL sell.

Two Illinois natives have actually hit the portal recently. AJ Henning and Kaleb Brown both left Big Ten powerhouses, and Illinois will certainly be hot on their trails. These two players may be more realistic options at the wide receiver position, but one has to hope that Zakhari Franklin will consider the fit for Illinois Football.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.