By Jennifer Van Tuyl
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Oklahoma fans have seen defensive back Dominique Franks intercept passes, seemingly coming from out of nowhere. They've risen to their feet as he blazes through tacklers on a punt return.
Although Franks has few peers when it comes to football speed, there is one person who can keep up - his mother. Thelma Martin was a standout track athlete at John Marshall High School. She still holds the record for the 100-meter hurdles, and ran for the Sooners as well.
"I was blessed with my mother's speed," Franks said. "She was a track star in high school and stays in great shape. She still has the wheels."
Could Franks' mother be the one to beat him? Franks said that he would be too tired to race after a rigorous football practice. If there is a race with mom, he needs plenty of fuel.
"I need to eat first before I go out there and run. I don't need to run on an empty stomach," Franks said.
And what about mom? What does she think about a match race?
"I would ask for 30 days to give me some time to get in shape," Martin said.
The outcome of a mother-son sprint will remain a mystery. But Franks says his mother has given him more than just speed.
"She taught me how to be a man," he said. "She taught me how to be a loving and caring person. My mom is my best friend. If I didn't have her in my life I wouldn't have been as successful as I am today. She helped me through a lot of tragedies and I thank God everyday that I have a mother that great. The more I think about her, words can't explain how great she is and how important she is in my life."
In 2008, Franks earned second team All-Big 12 honors while recording a team-high two defensive touchdowns and 10 pass deflections. Through six games this season, Franks has one interception and is averaging 17 yards on punt returns. Statistics aren't what gratifies his mother.
"I am very proud of him, more off the field than anything," Martin said. "Being a football player is a bonus. The way he carries himself as a young man and keeping everything in check as far as going to school and finishing out his degree, that to me is more important. He is doing great."
Franks knows that his mother is probably his closest competitor when it comes to speed, but he also understands her unwavering support as a mother and best friend.
"No matter what I do in life she is going to love me no matter what," a smiling Franks said. "I love her and I'm glad she is in my life."