BY MILES PREKOSKI
Since obtaining an engineering degree in New York, spending two years in the NFL and experiencing a brief stint in the Alliance of American Football, Carmel High alumnus Andrew Franks has signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, playing in the rebooted league for the first year since it ceased operations in 2001.
After being released by the Miami Dolphins, Franks spent his time as a kicker in the American Alliance of Football during the league’s one-year lifespan. It was in the summer of 2019, though, when the kicker received a unique opportunity to return to Florida and serve as a kicker for the Tampa Bay Vipers, an up-and-coming league designed to encourage faster-paced, more exhilarating games with fewer strict rules and guidelines.
“We’ve got a lot of really talented players on the team this year,” the 27-year-old kicker comments. “I’m really excited to be with this group of guys.”
After attending CHS, Franks was set on getting into an engineering school and obtaining a degree. In 2010, Franks made the decision to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Troy, New York. The athlete spent the next four years at RPI playing football with the Division-III football team and getting his bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering.
Taking advantage of his skills as a kicker while at RPI, Franks had a chance encounter with Justin Medlock, a former NFL kicker and current kicker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
“Medlock called me up and asked if I wanted to kick some balls with him,” Franks says. “He had a strong leg, and I was keeping up with him the whole time, so that was the first time I had thought, ‘Well, if he can do it, so can I.’”
That invite led Franks down an unexpected path for an undergraduate engineering major, as the kicker began making a name for himself and receiving offers from NFL teams.
Franks began his high school sports career as a multi-tool JV football team player, but quickly moved up in the ranks after filling in for a varsity kicker in a first round playoff game.
“We were having some problems with kicking when he was a freshman playing for JV when we moved Andrew up [to varsity] against Scotts Valley,” Anderson adds.
The coach was involved in all four years of Franks’ high school football career, but notes he didn’t serve as head coach until 2009.
“He kicked a field goal and made it on the last play of the half to tie the game 17-17, and he wasn’t overwhelmed by it,” Anderson adds. “It was a big moment for him. At a young age you could see that the stage was never too big.”
By his sophomore year, there was no question Franks would be a varsity player in every sport he played.
The Carmel alum was selected as an all-county or all-league player for soccer, baseball and football, but suffered a possible season-ending skull fracture and concussion while playing in a seven-on-seven football game in July on a field trip. His family and coaching staff were left wondering if his career in football was over.
“Any interest in me before the skull fracture sort of diminished, so at a point I realized that I needed to put school first and still play a sport I really care about as well,” Franks comments.
Franks wasn’t drafted upon graduating RPI in 2014 but signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, beating out multiple kickers on the team. For the next two years Franks kicked 29 field goals on a 78% field goal percentage and a 95% extra point attempt percentage in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The 27-year-old plans to continue his major league sports career for the next few years, hoping for offers from NFL teams and later continuing his career in biomedical engineering after a unique career path that has led him around the country.
Franks is entering his sixth week in the XFL, a league playing a modified schedule with a 10-game season. To catch Franks score a few field goals on national TV, watch the Vipers take on the D.C. Defenders on Saturday, March 28.