October 12, 2011

Khris Francis bursts onto scene (with video)

Durham (N.C.) Hillside High, the defending 4-A state championship team, has a long tradition of rushers who have surpassed 1,000-yards on the ground. Since 2006, the ultra-successful ball carriers for the Hornets have included Cleveland Browns receiver Greg Little, Duke running back Desmond Scott, NC Central running back Gary Douglass and Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee.

That's an impressive group of names and fans can add one more to the list: Hillside junior running back Khris Francis, who eclipsed 1,000-yards in his sixth game of the year this season.

Francis torched cross-town rival Jordan High for 173 yards, three rushing touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions on Oct. 7 in a 36-7 win for the Hornets. Although the stat line was impressive, the humble running back was more concerned about where he can improve than what he accomplished; specifically he mentioned a fumble inside the red zone in the first quarter.

"I felt like I had a pretty good game," the speedster said. "The team played well. I could have done better securing the ball, but that will come with practice.

"It feels good [to be compared to Hillside's previous successful runners]. I have to keep the streak going, I guess."

The 5-foot-9, 181-pounder is beginning to examine his college options and has been to a few games so far this fall.

"I've been able to see North Carolina, Penn State and NC State," he said. "I've also been to Auburn and Georgia Tech, but I haven't been to their games yet. All the schools' atmospheres are pretty good. I do also want to go to Duke and South Carolina."

The junior attended NC State's home date against Georgia Tech and he came away impressed.

"It was a new experience, I had not been to an NC State game before that," Francis said. "I had been to their facility and checked out their weight room, locker room and stuff like that [previously], but it was a good experience. The fans are very supportive and you can't ask for any more than that."

Francis said that the two programs he talks to the most are Penn State and North Carolina. He also mentioned that he is likely to attend Duke's contest against Florida State in Durham on Oct. 15 and a trip to ECU could also be on the horizon.

The North Carolina native said he didn't grow up pulling for any particular college and wants to major in engineering in college. He told the Durham Herald-Sun that he has a 3.3 GPA and two colleges with outstanding engineering programs currently stick out to the youngster.

"I'd say Penn State because they have a good engineering program," he said. "When I went down there, that's mainly what we talked about - the academics, they're very big on that and so is NC State."

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