- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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He’s not praying that he breaks the record, mind you, but more for the ability to focus on the task at hand and forget about chasing the record.
He’s doing as much praying as ever this week because Franklin enters Saturday’s game at Arizona State with 3,547 yards rushing for his career and needs 185 to break Gaston Green’s 25-year-old record of 3,731.
Franklin has rushed for more than 185 yards twice already this season and three times in his career, so the record is certainly in reach, especially against a Sun Devils defense that gave up 406 yards on the ground last week against Oregon.
“I’ve definitely thought about it, but I can’t get caught up into the me thing and my goals,” Franklin said. “It has to be about we, our and team. So I just stay praying that I don’t get caught up in that and start to focus on going after that.”
Franklin started this season No. 9 on UCLA career rushing list, but has skyrocketed up to No. 2 after rushing for 878 yards this season. His 125.43 yards per game ranks No. 9 in the nation this season, which began with blistering performances of 214 and 217 yards in the first two games.
Bumps and bruises slowed him the past two games, but he said he feels healthy coming off the bye week. Offensive lineman Jeff Baca, who has paved the way for many of Franklin's runs over the past four seasons, said the record is a product of Franklin’s work ethic and dedication.
“That’s just a testament to how hard he runs and how hard he works in practice every day and the things that he’s accomplished every day,” Baca said. “It’s not something that we’re striving for in particular. Obviously we’re striving for him to rush forever, but it’s less of an offensive line thing than it is him running his tail off.”
It’s almost a given that Franklin will break the record sometime in the next two or three weeks, but there is another one waiting on the horizon. Karim Abdul-Jabbar rushed for 1,571 yards in 1995, meaning Franklin has five games -- six including a potential bowl game -- to tally 694 yards and break that record.
Franklin said that it would be nice to see his name atop those lists when the season is over, but reiterated that now is not the time to get caught up in individual pursuits.
"The team is what is most important," he said. "If I get there, I get there. If I don’t, I don’t. As long as we win, I’ll be happy either way."
UCLA CAREER RUSHING LEADERS
3,731 Gaston Green, 1984-87
3,547 Johnathan Franklin, 2009-12
3,195 Freeman McNeil, 1977-80
3,194 DeShaun Foster, 1998-01
3,182 Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 1992-95
3,181 Wendell Tyler, 1973-76
3,140 Skip Hicks, 1993-97
2,914 Theotis Brown, 1976-78
2,733 Chris Markey, 2004-07
2,583 Kevin Nelson, 1980-83
UCLA SINGLE SEASON RUSHING LEADERS
1,571 Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 1995
1,405 Gaston Green, 1986
1,396 Freeman McNeil, 1979
1,388 Wendell Tyler, 1975
1,283 Theotis Brown, 1978
1,282 Skip Hicks, 1997
1,227 Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 1994
1,141 Kevin Williams, 1991
1,129 Kermit Johnson, 1973
1,127 Johnathan Franklin, 2010
3dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell