James Franklin, Olathe North High School’s career leading rusher and a former Eagle Top 11 selection, has died, according to the Olathe Police Department.
A spokesman for the department said officers found Franklin, 23, dead after responding to a call at The Edge apartment complex at 12200 S. Strang Line Rd.
Franklin helped lead Olathe North to an undefeated season and the Kansas Class 6A state championship in 2009, when the Eagles defeated Wichita Heights.
He broke Darren Sproles’ single-season rushing record with 2,803 yards and scored 31 touchdowns as a senior, earning the Simone Award as the Kansas City area’s top player.
Franklin finished with 5,916 career rushing yards, which eclipsed Sproles’ career mark of 5,230, and his 69 career touchdowns rank second only to Sproles (75).
The Eagle selected Franklin as one the Top 11 players in the state his senior year.
He with signed with the University of Nebraska-Omaha out of high school and — as a freshman — finished ninth in the MIAA with 766 yards rushing and 10 touchdown in 11 games.
When the Mavericks’ football program was dismantled the next spring, Franklin transferred to Northwest Missouri State, where he led the Bearcats with 1,247 yards and 25 touchdowns (24 rushing) as a sophomore.
Franklin again led Northwest Missouri in rushing with 733 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior, but he was ruled academically ineligible before his senior season, according to a 2013 St. Joseph News Press article.