Oh no! [Franklin appears in The Times' voter database as "decline to state."]
You grew up in Baldwin Village. How did you stay focused — one of your favorite words — when so many kids you know didn't?
I had a prayin' mother. I don't say it just to sound good. God has really just shown favor on my life. It's been unfortunate to see all the kids I grew up with. Some have been shot; some went to jail; some are drug dealers. Even when I go through the neighborhood now, they're doing the same things. I had to be different. Ever since I was younger I wanted to make a change, to be a role model, so I just separated myself.
What did you do every day that was so different?
Football practice. Did my homework just a little longer. Stayed in the house rather than going out and doing foolish things. Not following everybody else's path, creating my own. Became involved in school. Ran for class president — anything I could do.
Did you win?
It was a runoff, my senior year. This girl, we were tied, but I was in Sacramento for a state track meet so I couldn't give a speech, so they just gave it to her.
You are forthright about your faith. You go to a 7 a.m. service every Sunday in Inglewood, and you cross yourself before almost every play. Do you think God takes sides in games?
No, but I know that's who I'm playing for. I love my teammates and I want to win, but I play for one audience. It's how I acknowledge God. Before every play, when I'm in the backfield and Brett [UCLA quarterback Hundley] is yelling at everybody, I'm talking to myself, I'm saying, "God, run with me, hold this ball with me, score with me." I'm talking to him the whole time, and that's why I'm so relaxed. He's just showed me favor this season.
You wrote plays at Dorsey High. You also write poetry, and you've read it at Da Poetry Lounge. You've said it's not lovey-dovey. What is it about?
I have written a love poem, I'm not going to lie! But I pretty much write about family and things that're going on in my neighborhood. Mainly it's been about change and revolution. When I was younger, I used to just sit outside and look at everything and just start writing and describe things.
You also started writing a book for teenagers?
I got about 20 pages and it was about the "N-word" and the "B-word" and how they're derogatory. It was about how people dress, how men sag and where that comes from, and how to be presentable. I also talk about drugs, how music influences you, the things you listen to.
Your volunteer list is a yard long: autistic kids, disadvantaged kids. They're looking up to you now.
It's a blessing to be a walking testimony. I've got to be conscious of the things I do and the things I say. If I go out to a party, I have to be smart with what I do and the groups I hang around. I prayed to be in this position; now I've got to stay focused.
You're not a square — does anyone still use that word? You listen to the music you've warned other kids about.
I listen to the music, but you have to be able to listen and live your life as well. I've seen people — they let the music influence them. Drinking and smoking so much, or going out to sleep with all these girls. That's a big problem. I love music, there's nothing against it, but you need to differentiate the music from reality.
There must be things you do just for fun. What's your leisure pleasure?
I have one nephew and two nieces and a little brother, and I love to hang out with them. That's my getaway. It's so great to take them out and have fun with them. Me and my nieces, we were watching this Tinkerbell movie and it was so funny watching them try to imitate Tinkerbell and fly around.
What's your 10-year plan? Play pro football and then maybe go into politics? Jack Kemp did.
God willing. Of course I want to go to the NFL, to get into politics. I want to do great things in L.A. But I've just got to work as hard as I can each day. Then tomorrow's going to take care of itself.
Are you prepared to do things like raise campaign money? That may be the most unpleasant part of politics.
If I have your support, then I'll definitely be ready.
You sound like a candidate already.
Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimes.
This interview was edited and excerpted from a taped transcript. An archive of Morrison's interviews can be found at latimes.com/pattasks.