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Mississippi was well represented in 2001 NFL draft

By Staff
April 23, 2001
Thoughts whizzing about as I wonder how many Meridianites will ante up to purchase Saints season tickets this year…
It's been a heckuva a draft this weekend. Mississippians and Mississippi collegians accounted for a big chunk of the names that were called out over the seven round, two-day affair.
If it was the New Orleans Saints' wish to build up the fan base in this area, they succeeded by drafting Kenny Smith and Deuce McAllister.
Unfortunately, a great local talent remained undrafted as former Meridian High and Delta State Statesmen Jason Franklin sat by the phone for a second day only to see others go ahead of him while he waited for a phone call that never came.
It reminds me of the other day when I was walking to my car after watching Meridian High defeat Long Beach in the first game of their first round series.
I stopped by Meridian High School athletic director Mac Barnes' car on the way out and we chatted for a moment about the prospects of all of the local guys getting picked.
We both agreed that it was really an exciting time. That's when I told him I was worried about Jason's chances because he went to such a small school.
He certainly isn't small on talent, but sometimes you have to be an all-world player at the Division II level to get picked up. Barnes said he had no doubts Jason would at the very least be in a camp somewhere as a free agent.
That's my feeling too.
The New Orleans Saints scouts worked him out a couple of weeks ago at Meridian Community College. He's had other organizations looking at him too.
His dad told me that the Green Bay Packers were extremely high on him.
My question is what were these organizations thinking this weekend?
For instance, I was surprised that the Saints took Cal-Davis receiver Onome Ojo in the fifth round with the 155th pick.
I also wasn't that impressed with Tennessee tight end David Martin's 2000 campaign. Martin was grabbed by the Packers at the end of the sixth round at No. 198.
But hey, what do I know?
I suppose I could have gone to Franklin's house this weekend in an effort to document the waiting, but Jason is pretty much a private guy and sorta shy so I felt better leaving him with his much-loved privacy and his family.
Best of luck Jason. Give me a call, buddy.
Who knows, maybe Randy Mueller invites Franklin into camp and we'll have not one but two Wildcats wearing the Fleur de Lis' this season. It could happen.
On the flip side, it was a time of celebration for Kenny Smith, who had a big shin dig with approximately 300 of his closest friends and family at his home here in town.
Smith said he expected to be chosen earlier than the third round but that the later pick didn't bother him.
I'm happy to be on a team, period,'' he said Saturday night. I know once I get (to the Saints camp) I'll make something happen.''
Of that I have no doubt.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or e-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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