After Stellar Senior Season for Hun Football, Franzoni Waiting to Make Debut for Brown
TOUGH TO BEAR: Ian Franzoni sprints upfield in 2019 action during his senior season with the Hun School football team. Star running back Franzoni rushed for 1,178 yards and 12 touchdowns and made 12 receptions for 322 yards and four touchdowns in his final campaign for the Raiders. He committed to attend Brown University and play for its football program. With COVID-19 concerns leading the Ivy League to cancel its fall sports schedule, Franzoni is waiting to make his debut for the Bears. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Under normal circumstances, Ian Franzoni would have been looking forward to enjoying a homecoming last Saturday as the Brown University football team had been slated to play at Princeton.
But with COVID-19 concerns leading the Ivy League to cancel its 2020 fall sports schedule, former Hun School star running back and Brown freshman football commit Franzoni never left home in Robbinsville.
While Franzoni may have to wait a while to play for Brown, deciding to attend the school and join its football program didn’t take long.
“The schools that I were big on were the service academies; I had cousins who played at Navy so I was big on them,” said Franzoni, noting that Brown freshmen are currently scheduled to arrive on campus in January.
“The Ivy League caught my attention in the middle of the season. Coach [Todd] Smith told me that Brown was interested. I went up there with John Parsons, our tight end, who is also going to be at Brown. We went up there and spent a day on campus. It was awesome. I loved it and coach [James] Perry offered me on that visit.”
Having served as a back-up to Josh Henderson, now playing at North Carolina, the previous three seasons, Franzoni appreciated Brown taking a shot on him.
“I didn’t have that much film before this year,” said the 5’11 190-pound Franzoni.
“So just knowing that they took a chance on me and they were the first ones to offer meant a lot to me.”
Knowing about Perry’s high-octane offensive
approach, Franzoni was
looking forward to making an impact for the Bears.
“From everything I have heard, one of the things he is known for a lot is what he does offensively,” said Franzoni.
“He runs more plays than anyone, he knows how to get it done offensively. So I am excited for that.”
Looking back on his senior season for Hun, Franzoni was excited to assume a leading role.
“I knew that I was going to have to take on a lot of responsibility, not only on the field but also as a leader for the team,” said Franzoni.
“I prepared a lot during the offseason and I just knew that when the time came I was going to be ready.”
It didn’t take long for Franzoni to demonstrate that he was ready for a big season as he rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns as Hun rolled to a 44-7 victory over Chesire Academy (Conn.) in its season opener.
“I think our opener against Chesire in Connecticut was a big one for me just to get the confidence up,” said Franzoni.
“It was my first big start at running back. Coming into my senior year, knowing that I was going to be that guy, so to go in there and do well and get my confidence up definitely gave me a good boost for the rest of the season.”
Franzoni gave Hun a huge boost over the fall, rushing for 1,178 yards and 12 touchdowns and making 12 receptions for 322 yards and four touchdowns as the Raiders went 6-2, including a forfeit win.
“We got to play a lot of good teams and stuff so it was good,” said Franzoni, reflecting on his senior campaign.
“We traveled down to Virginia, we couldn’t pull out the win there (losing 28-14 to Life Christian) but it was definitely a good experience, playing a team that played a national schedule. We didn’t have the season we wanted to in terms of losing two games with that loss to Peddie. I think the team really came together; it was a great group of guys so it was a good experience, for sure.”
This spring, Franzoni enjoyed another special experience as he won the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s Jack Stephan Top Scholarship Award, becoming the third Raider to win the award after Mark Savidge in 1964 and Richard Ziegler in 1970.
“It meant a lot, if you look at the past winners of that award, there are some outstanding guys on that list,” said Franzoni.
“To be considered in their presence and be a part of that elite group really meant a lot for me. Hun did a lot for me over my four years preparing me, not only on the football field but just for life in general and the next four years. To be able to give back in whatever small way I could there, bringing them some good recognition was definitely important to me.”
In preparing for Brown, Franzoni worked with Hun strength and conditioning coach Na’ati Akauola before getting instructions from the Bears.
“They sent a workout plan and stuff so I have been doing that,” said Franzoni.
“It has been tough during quarantine. In the first months after the season I was training at Hun with coach A. He has been great; he has helped me a lot over my past four years.”
In training through COVID-19 restrictions, Franzoni has been creative. “It is funny, as soon as quarantine started me and my brothers and a few of the local kids who I am friends with were all pretty bummed because there was nowhere to train,” said Franzoni.
“We all combined some equipment that we had and we made a gym in my garage. As far as football stuff goes, I have been trying to get on fields as much as I can doing football specific stuff.”
When Franzoni does get on the field for Brown, whether it is this spring or next fall, he will be bringing a different perspective on the sport.
“It definitely makes you appreciate being able to play the game,” said Franzoni.
“Sometimes you may take it for granted like it is just going to be there in the fall. When it gets taken away from you, it is a like a shot to the heart. It has been hard. It makes you even more hungry to get back out there and start playing again.”