September 3, 2004
Emmanuel Franklin moved from cornerback to safety this season for the chance to "make a whole lot of plays."
That's exactly what the irrepressible senior did Thursday at Sun Devil Stadium. With Arizona State holding a tenuous 10-0 second-quarter lead — and Sun Devil faithful wondering if they were going to witness a repeat of last year's Northern Arizona and Utah State games — Franklin stepped in front of a Jordan Palmer pass and returned it to the UTEP 30, setting up Brent Miller's 2-yard touchdown reception for a 17-0 edge.
Four plays later, Franklin stole a Palmer pass near midfield with a juggling, one-handed catch and returned it 48 yards for a score.
In the the span of about 2:30, Franklin had tripled his career interception total while turning a tight game into a rout.
“Manny played great tonight, getting those two picks and taking one to the house," receiver Terry Richardson said. “I haven't seen a defensive player take one to the house in a long time."
A healthy and productive Franklin would be a boon to an ASU secondary — particularly the corners — that was the target of much criticism in the preseason.
It would also be the feel-good story of the year after what Franklin has endured. A concussion during spring practice in 2002 led to brain surgery, which put his life, not just his career, in jeopardy. Franklin has a family history with the affliction. Ten years ago, his grandfather, Adolphus, had surgery for a subdural hematoma and died a year later.
After sitting out 2002, Franklin played in nine games for ASU last season, starting four in place of the injured R.J. Oliver. With a season's worth of rust, he never became the impact player his club envisioned during a disappointing 5-7 season. But Franklin made big plays this past spring, and that success has spilled over into the regular season.