John Franklin III was among the students to walk across the stage at Auburn's commencement on Saturday but unlike all but one of the other recent graduates, he had football practice shortly after.
"That's one thing no one can ever take away from you," Franklin said. "I've been going to school all my life, literally. So it's good to see that pay off. I'm happy about it."
Earning a Bachelor's degree was always a priority for Franklin, the son of educators, butwhether he'd stay at Auburn after graduation was somewhat in question after last season.
Before Saturday's practice, the team's fifth of fall camp, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn called Franklin and Jason Smith up to congratulate them on graduating.
"(Franklin)'s been through some ups and downs but he hung in there and it says a lot about him," Malzahn said. "He's one of our leaders. He's trying to do everything he can to help the team, not just receiver but special teams and those things. I'm real proud of John."
Franklin said it was a "special" moment to be recognized by his coach and teammates. He explained why he's staying at Auburn for his senior season and play wide receiver.
"Transferring is a tough process and to be bouncing around from school to school, that's the last thing I wanted to do, to be honest," Franklin said. "Transferring was the last option because it takes a lot out of you. This is my third school and trying to make it a fourth? Four schools in five years doesn't look good for anybody.
"Transferring wasn't really an option. I had to figure out what I was going to do for this last year and me, coach Malzahn and (offensive coordinator Chip) Lindsey sat down and came up with a plan. It's working out for the best right now."
It's been a long and at times arduous path for Franklin, who began his career at Florida State before transferring to East Mississippi C.C. and then Auburn last year.His time at EMCC was chronicled at on the Netflix series Last Chance U, which led to both notoriety and criticism.
Franklin said he's learned from the experience and the feedback, both good and bad, he's received since and is happy to be where he is today.
"Honestly, it's kinda funny because everybody thinks they know who I am and they really don't," Franklin said. "You can't tell who I am off of six hours of a show when they're filming us for six months, but you don't see any of that. It's a TV show, you're not going to watch something that is boring. No one is going to watch something boring. How can you judge me off of six hours? That's the thing that bothered me the most, but at the end of the day I don't really care. I've never been one to care about what people thought about me.
"I don't have to answer to anybody. If it's not God, people's opinions don't matter. That was a rough point of my life. What you see is real life, nothing scripted. I'm not the only one that got put on TV for it. I don't feel ashamed about how I acted. I don't really care because at the end of the day that was my life and that's what I was struggling with. I feel good from where I started to where I'm at now."