Tavlin Hunt always dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps and playing college football at Nebraska. That became a little more difficult when his father, former Nebraska fullback Andra Franklin, passed away before Hunt reached age 10.
Franklin, who played at Nebraska from 1977 to 1980, rushed for over 1,700 yards in his career before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft. That provided plenty of fodder for reminiscing with his son.
“I remember having conversations with him as a little kid about playing football at Nebraska,” Hunt said.
When Franklin died of heart failure in 2006, Hunt lost the chance to keep learning from him.
That didn’t stop the linebacker from Lincoln North Star from fulfilling his dream — he joined the Nebraska football program as a preferred walk-on earlier this month.
Hunt also grew to share many of the same characteristics as his father, a starter in Super Bowl XVII who former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne once described as “quiet and strong.”
“He’s not a real vocal leader, but leads by example,” North Star coach Mark Waller said.
As a leader on the defense, Hunt led the team with 112 tackles. He also ran for nearly 500 yards as the backup running back. Waller said he could have been a candidate for more touches on offense, but they didn’t want to overexert such an important part of their defense.
“He never came off the field on defense as a three-year letterman,” Waller said. “He’s a powerful and explosive young man.”
Now it’s Hunt’s turn to try and leave a legacy of his own. He knows he has work to do to be successful at the next level.
“I need to expand my knowledge of defensive schemes and just go in every day ready to improve myself,” Hunt said. “I’m ready to help wherever I can.”
Though Hunt is aware of all the work needed to be successful, he’s confident he has the tools to find success.
“I feel like I have good size and decent footwork, which will help me at the next level,” Hunt said. “And I enjoy getting in the weight room.”
Waller backs those sentiments.
“He’s improved a lot against the pass. He’s a strong kid who loves the weight room,” Waller said. “His athleticism really sticks out. We’re excited to see what he can do at that level.”
Part of that excitement comes after a recent bout of uncertainty. Hunt didn’t hear from Nebraska until the Saturday before signing day. If the walk-on opportunity did not present itself, Hunt had scholarship offers waiting from the likes of UNK, Chadron State and Wayne State.
But once that walk-on offer came, Hunt knew it was the only offer that mattered.
“Every single workout I put in was to get here to this point,” Hunt said.
“He had a lot of other interest, but when he got the opportunity to walk on at Nebraska he was really excited. It’s been a dream of his,” Waller said.
The dream of following in his father’s footsteps has now become a reality, and Hunt plans on taking every advantage.
“I (view) a walk-on offer as them thinking I have a chance,” Hunt said. “I want to continue my family’s legacy. It’s just cool that both my dad and I will have played football there. I think about him a lot.”
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