‘What we’re really about’: How Zaire Franklin turned ‘Z60’ into a fan favorite

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Notre Dame graduate transfer defensive back Devin M. Butler told Franklin he is driven by his older brother, who is now in a wheelchair because he got shot in 2008.“But he’s smiling every day,” Butler said. “He out here making music, living life, so I can’t complain about a damn thing.”“We take a lot of pride in being featured on that,” Butler said later. “Being a transfer coming in, that was special to me. That meant a lot. It was a real welcoming, one of those initiation kind of things.”In 2016, his lone season at SU, Etta-Tawo became the program’s first All-American since 2001. He thought back to his brother, who had heart condition end his career. When Etta-Tawo was in seventh grade, his brother told him, “You’re the next one. It’s on you.”“I’m getting kind of emotional,” Etta-Tawo told Franklin on air. “He’s like a father to me. Just do it for him.”Growing up in Detroit, Bennett said he learned to stay away from peer pressure. Bennett thanked his stepfather, who entered his life at age 7 and introduced Parris to football. He led SU with 110 tackles last year and remains on pace to surpass that total this season.“Hopefully we get a chance to let people outside of the program know what we’re really about,” Franklin said, “and what’s really important to us.” Comments Most of the time, Franklin walks up to a teammate before or after practice and asks if he wants to be on the show that day. He does not tell them the questions ahead of time, nor does he say what makes a quality answer.On Sept. 27, senior offensive lineman Jamar McGloster discussed how he got to SU, growing up with a father who worked as a police officer in Newark, New Jersey. In the Sept. 6 edition, Franklin asked junior wide receiver Jamal Custis what inspires him. Custis looked back to his childhood, when he grew up with his single mother. His father died when he was 4.“She did everything to get me to where I’m at,” Custis told Franklin. “I feel like I have to repay her.”Last month, sophomore running back Moe Neal mentioned how his father’s mistakes drove him. Moe Neal Sr., his father, had a penchant for late nights and drugs. When Little Moe was born, his father was in prison. Published on October 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 The selection process is rigid: Be a regular starter or contributor. Have a personality. Don’t be monotone. Appear camera-friendly.If a player makes the cut, Zaire Franklin approaches him in the locker room and asks if he wants to join him for a Q&A session on Cuse TV. It’s part of Franklin’s weekly YouTube video called “Z60,” which derives from ESPN’s award-winning show “E60.” Franklin’s episodes, which last about four or five minutes each, are designed to give Syracuse fans a clearer picture of what players are like without a helmet and pads on.In the past season and a half, Franklin, a senior linebacker for Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast), has interviewed 18 teammates, including junior quarterback Eric Dungey, fellow senior linebacker Parris Bennett and former All-American wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Before a rapid-fire, 60-second section during which he asks players about their favorite movies, cartoons and hobbies, Franklin asks: “What drives you to be great in life?”“That’s a question you have to ask yourself even when things are getting hard,” said Franklin, the second three-time captain in the history of the program. “What’s making you do this? What’s making you wake up at 7 a.m. to go watch extra film? What’s making me do something after practice? What’s really driving me? The fact that it gives them the opportunity to put that out loud on camera to me, teammates and other people, it makes it that much more powerful.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile the rapid-fire segment of “Z60” is lighthearted — backup quarterback Zack Mahoney joked about a time he broke three fingers in elementary school gym class — a significant chunk of the show is serious. Franklin asks about players’ backgrounds, motivators and role models. When he asks teammates about what drives them, many pause to think about it, before looking back to family or early life experiences.The show is a continuation of “Cam’s Cam,” a weekly segment by former Syracuse linebacker and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Cameron Lynch. Franklin’s show has since taken off. His average viewership is nearly 1,000 hits on YouTube. The inaugural edition, with Dungey last fall, has nearly 2,000 hits.Franklin has yet to have a teammate turn down an interview request and players said many of their families are regular viewers. Franklin, a senior finance major, said he’s given an “abnormal” number of presentations, including in high school, church and for classes at SU. That prepared him to appear calm and smooth on camera while chatting with teammates. While he asks similar questions every time, each conversation goes in a different direction.“We have such a diversified locker room,” said junior linebacker Kielan Whitner, one of Franklin’s former guests. “Everybody brings a little something different.”last_img

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