DAVIE — Hardly much time goes by without someone reminding Andrew Franks of his 55-yard field goal in the waning seconds in Buffalo, a kick vital to the Dolphins’ playoff berth last season.
It was such a clutch kick that the Dolphins didn’t bother bringing in competition for Franks this offseason. It’s his job to lose.
Rewarding? Sure, but given that Franks was an Engineer in college — that was the nickname at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — kicking is not the only job he has concerned himself with this offseason.
Before outlining his other endeavors, keep in mind that Franks is only 24 and hopes to be kicking in the NFL deep into his 40s. So why the need for a Plan B and Plan C?
“For me, it’s something I always want to keep in my back pocket, whenever this career ends,” he said. “It could be tomorrow, could be in 15, 20 years. You never know. I’d rather have that information and never use it than need that information and not have it.”
Gathering that information meant serving two externships, first a 10-day stint at Under Armour in Baltimore, where he worked and analyzed “business aspects of research, design, marketing, the whole flow of the system,” he said.
If that weren’t heady enough, he headed to San Jose to work at Stryker Medical in its endoscopy division, learning about everything from design to clinical trials and marketing.
Franks, who majored in biomedical engineering, isn’t alone in recognizing there’s life after football. The Under Armour experience was through the NFL Players Association and involved 13 other players. And 16 other Dolphins took up owner Stephen Ross’ offer for a business combine in New York in February.
Teammates are “trying to see where their future lays, where they want to end up, what jobs are appealing to them,” Franks said.
Most appealing to Franks, naturally, is keeping his career arc on the upswing. He had game-winning kicks against Arizona and Buffalo in overtime in December and was 2-for-2 in the wild-card game in Pittsburgh.
His career highlight was the 55-yarder with six seconds left in regulation in miserable conditions in Buffalo “of all places,” Franks said. Just to make it challenging, the Dolphins were out of timeouts and had to hustle their field-goal unit onto the field, unable to swap the regular ball for the special kicking ball.
“I had a ton of friends send me the video,” Franks said. “ … It’s a cool kick to watch.”
Franks returned for OTAs looking “a little more rugged,” with flowing locks and facial hair, and sounds eager to play the rugged part.
“I always like competition,” he said. “I always like comparing myself. Just because there’s not a guy on the team roster that I’m competing with, I really look to everyone else in the league. I don’t want to be in the middle or the bottom of the league. I really want to aim for that top spot.”
A career along the lines of Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, 44, would be acceptable.
“Hopefully in 20 to 25 years I’m still kicking,” Franks said. “Adam Vinatieri is still doing it. He’s still looking strong. That’s the plan for now and once that deviates, we’ll see what happens. I would like to use my degree at some point, but I’m not trying to push that for right now.”
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