Four Franklin players get tapped for college football

Montana, Idaho and Oregon schools offer scholarships to PIL champion teammates

The community that is Franklin High School got a lot smaller this week for four seniors when they officially signed letters of intent to play college football.

Legedu Naanee, Shem Hardnett, Matt LaFollette and Ronald Richmond are all headed to college on athletic scholarships that will pay for all or large parts of their educations, and, perhaps, help them reach the National Football League.

All of which makes the halls at Franklin seem just a little more confining than they were before Wednesday's signings.

'It's sort of like going back to middle school,' said the 6-foot-3 Naanee of walking through the halls of his school. 'Everything is just a little different.'

Franklin won the Portland Interscholastic League title last fall but lost in the first round of the state playoffs.

Naanee chose Boise State over Oregon State because the Broncos wanted him to play quarterback, and he was excited about Boise's response to his visit.

'I was part of a group of seven recruits, and as soon as anyone found out who we were, they were extremely nice to us,' Naanee said. 'They looked at us as though we were special. I was impressed by that.'

Hardnett and Richmond also wound up in the Big Sky Conference, Hardnett at Montana State, where he will play running back, and Richmond at Portland State, where he will play receiver.

Hardnett said he would focus on football in Bozeman, Mont., where outdoor activities are prevalent.

'I might try some hunting,' Hardnett said. 'But I expect I'll be spending a lot of time working on football.'

Richmond said he looked forward to expanding his ability beyond receiver.

'If I can play some defense, too, that would be great,' he said. 'Whatever I can do best.'

LaFollette, a receiver who will attend Western Oregon, said he was happy to have a scholarship after the effort he put into his football training.

'After four years, it's great to get college paid for,' he said. 'I worked hard, and this is the payoff.'

Two other seniors, center Brian Sprague and defensive end Randall Richmond, will likely wind up playing collegiately. Sprague may wind up at Western Oregon, while Randall Richmond will likely play at a junior college.

While Franklin's senior class is moving on, its members hope they have left something of a legacy for the athletes following them, not only because the Quakers won the city football title but because they publicly talked about winning the state championship before the season.

'We've got a tradition here,' Hardnett said. 'And we're hoping the younger guys continue that tradition.'

'In five years, the coaches here will be talking about us as the guys who set the goals for the program,' LaFollette said. 'Hopefully they can get there. It's hard, especially for a team from the PIL, but you have to start somewhere.'

While the halls at Franklin may seem a little smaller, Naanee said they were still comforting.

'The staff here is like a family,' Naanee said. 'They look after you and make you feel like you're at home.'

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