CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Upon scrolling through his phone one afternoon, Sam Franklin saw something that immediately caught his eye.

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“I stopped for a second like, ‘Hold on, wait, this can’t be me,'” Franklin remembers.

But it was.

Right there on the NFL’s website was the Pro Bowl ballot and amongst the special team nominees was his name.

“I was like, ‘Aww.’ It was a blessing really.”

It was also validation from the Carolina coaches that were nominated in the first place. They saw the effort but maybe, more importantly, they saw the 26-year-old’s maturity. 

You see, when Franklin entered the league two years ago, the undrafted Temple safety was not happy after he was asked to move from defense to special teams. Franklin wanted to play more, and he couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t.

“I was like man I don’t understand it. I make plays out there.”

Franklin admitted for a year and a half he sulked around the locker room. But then two things happened. First Carolina signed Frankie Luvu, and unlike Franklin, Luvu didn’t have a problem playing kickoffs.

“The more playing time he gets and the more playing time he gets, the more you actually see oh he’s a good football player,” Franklin noticed.

Then there was a conversation with teammate Shaq Thompson who essentially told the 6-3, 210-pounder to grow up.

“He was like ‘Bro, sometimes you got to just play your role until your role gets bigger.'”

By the end of last season, Franklin began taking his role more seriously, and now this year, he’s become a force. His 10 tackles are tied for the team lead amongst special teamers.

Granted he still wants to play defense but he says his main priority is doing what’s best for the franchise.

“I’m more of a wherever we need me to win. I feel like my impact on special teams changed the game.”

And soon, he could find himself in the game…the one played amongst the NFL’s best.