Sept. 6, 2002
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -
University of Wyoming football player Trenton Franz is aprofessional athlete.
But wait a minute, how can Franz be a professional athlete and still competeat the college level?
Franz, who is the starting center on the Cowboys' offensive line, isn'tmoonlighting as a pro football player, wrestler or anything like that.
But last summer, Franz tried his hand in a few professional disc golftournaments. You know disc golf, where you throw a Frisbee-like spherethrough the air to a green. It's just like golf, you try to throw the discat the pin in as few strokes as possible.
The only difference is you use a disc instead of a golf ball.
Don't expect an NCAA investigation in Laramie over Franz' dip into theprofessional ranks. But he did sacrifice one thing after he turned pro.
"I talked to (UW associate athletics director) Barbara Burke and she said itwas fine as long as I paid my own way," Franz said. "But I'm never allowedto compete in college golf."
Franz said he made about $300 this summer in his pro debut. He placed fourthat one tournament in Colorado, and later placed seventh at another. At atournament in Kansas City, Franz placed 40th out of 90 competitors.
Franz began playing disc golf when he was a kid growing up in Fort Collins,Colo. He began playing in tournaments when he was about 17.
Despite his early pro success, don't expect Franz to leave UW early topursue a pro career in disc golf.
"It's really relaxing for me, but it's a hobby," Franz said. "You can'treally make a living or a career off of that. It gets my mind off offootball."
Franz added there are some similarities to disc golf and playing football.
"There's a lot of pressure in both," Franz said. "In football games, it'sjust me out there snapping the ball. Out of the disc golf course, it's justme putting and competing that way. Some of the pressure issues are similar.
"It's kind of nerve-racking playing (disc golf) against guys who have beendoing that for 15 years. But my first college football game was morenerve-racking."
Franz' first college game was in 2000 where he got in a few snaps in UW's51-3 loss at Texas A&M. Franz ended up redshirting that year. But in hisredshirt freshman season last year, Franz started the final seven gamesbecause of an injury to Mike Irvin. Franz eventually earned the startingrole for his effort on the field.
Playing Division I football almost never happened for Franz. Coming out ofhigh school, he was only 240 pounds and played offensive tackle. In this dayand age in college football, not many schools will go after linemen, even inhigh school, who are that small.
But a couple of weeks after Vic Koenning was hired as UW's coach, he gaveFranz a call and offered him a scholarship.
Entering this season, Franz is still considered undersized by many at6-foot-3, 272 pounds.
"I'm undersized, so it's about effort for me and doing the little thingsright," Franz said. "But that's served as motivation to me. The only peoplethat really believed in me were my older brother, who played at ColoradoState, my intermediate family and my coaches. Every D-I school that lookedat me told me I was too small.
"If coach Koenning hadn't called me, I probably would have been off to(Division I-AA) Dartmouth or Cornell."