Because he catches passes like a wideout and blocks like a tackle, Miami junior tight end Daniel Franks has had NFL general managers drooling since he burst onto the scene in 1997 with five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown against Temple. In that game Franks, who grew up in Big Spring, Texas, with a poster of Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek on his bedroom door, became the first Hurricanes tight end in five years to gain 100 or more receiving yards in a game. On his first two receptions the 6'6", 260-pound Franks, who's better known as Bubba, knocked off a defender's helmet and left another would-be tackier dazed and crumpled in a heap.
"More than anything, Bubba is physically imposing and has tremendous skills," says Miami coach Butch Davis. "But the thing I have noticed is his consistency. When that ball is snapped, he takes it as a license to dominate somebody."
In the last two years Franks has caught a total of 32 passes, including seven for touchdowns, for a 14.8-yard average. Often last year his blocking freed running back Edgerrin James, the first-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts, for big gainers. "Franks is a hell of a player," says one scout. "He can run, catch and block. He does them all very well. He's definitely the Number 1 tight end and a definite first-round pick. You watch him: He'll just keep rising up the ladder."
"I'd like to compare Bubba to someone in the NFL," says Hurricanes tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski, "but I'm not sure there's a tight end with his tenaciousness and versatility."