WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Warner Robins football team has a new defensive back this season.
“We call him ‘Bama,'” head coach Mike Chastain says. “I believe the nickname was because he came from Alabama.”
Decatur, Alabama, to be exact. It’s a city located on the Tennessee River. Population: 55,000 give or take.
Trey Franklin’s dad Edward hoped his son would play at Austin High School–one of two public high schools in the city and Edward’s alma mater–but things changed in 2014.
“I worked at International Paper for ten years, and they came in and said they were going to do a shutdown,” Edward says. “They closed the (Courtland, Alabama) mill, and I had to transfer.”
The Franklins were one of dozens of families forced to relocate.
“We left everybody behind,” Edward says. “We came up with no family, no friends–just started over again. It was kind of tough at the beginning.”
Trey says he was sad about the move.
“But at the same time, there was really nothing I could do about it–just go with it.”
Their first stop? Selma, Alabama. Edward found work at the IP plant there.
“And then I moved to middle Georgia with a company called Weyerhaeuser, and International Paper bought it, so here it is.”
Trey started his high school football career at Houston County High School.
“Football kind of helped us all adjust,” Edward remembers.
After three seasons with the Bears, Trey is now adjusting to another new school. He transferred to Warner Robins for his final varsity season.
“He’s just a phenomenal tackler at his size,” Chastain says. “At the next level, he’s probably a cornerback. He plays safety for us and does a really, really good job.”
He does such a good job that he’s earned himself a spot on a Division I football team. He’s committed to the University of Buffalo.
“It’s like home away from home,” Trey says. “I was very comfortable the way everything went (on my visit). I just love the feel of it.”
The Franklins are proving once again home is where the heart is.
“He’s happy about it,” Edward says. “We’re happy about the decision. We’re just proud of the accomplishments that he made and that he’s doing big things in the sport of football.”
Trey plans to major in business management.