Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes: Clarksdale’s Bobby Ray Franklin


Clarksdale native Bobby Ray Franklin was an outstanding quarterback who helped Ole Miss to 28 victories over three seasons and then became a safety on championship teams in the NFL.

Bobby Ray Franklin  Photo courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
Bobby Ray Franklin
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame

At Clarksdale High, Franklin became the first 10th grader to earn varsity letters in four sports and then went on to earn All-American football honors as a senior. At Ole Miss, he passed, ran, punted, and was also a standout on defense.

He made the SEC’s Team of the Decade of the 1950s, as chosen by the Associated Press. He was the MVP of the Rebels 21-0 victory over LSU in the 1960 Sugar Bowl. He intercepted eight passes as an NFL rookie with the Cleveland Browns in 1960, which ranked him second in the NFL. He was a standout on the 1962 Browns team that shut out Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL Championship game. Franklin coached for the Dallas Cowboys and the Baltimore Colts and served as a scout for the Seattle Seahawks before getting back into coaching at Northwest Junior College in Senatobia. His Northwest teams compiled a 201-56-6 record. The Rangers won six state titles and two national championships under Franklin.

In 1992, Franklin’s Rangers finished 13-0 and outscored opponents 497-94. Franklin retired in 2005 after 68 years in football as a player, scout or coach.


Courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum director Rick Cleveland, author of Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes. Cleveland can be reached at rcleveland@msfame.com.