FAU’s De’Andre Johnson, John Franklin III, Tim Bonner featured on Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U’ special

De’Andre Johnson throws during spring football practice at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on March 22, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Present at the 2017 Birmingham Bowl to watch former East Mississippi teammate Dakota Allen and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Florida Atlantic defensive end Tim Bonner chuckled at a question from a fan: Is FAU head coach Lane Kiffin “a nut?”

“He just crazy,” Bonner tells the fan. “He’s crazy as a mother——. He fun, but he cool, though. I like him.”

Bonner’s reunion with Allen is one of the features in the new Netflix special “EMCC & Life After.” The special serves as a spin-off of “Last Chance U,” the critically acclaimed documentary series about JUCO powerhouse East Mississippi Community College. Former FAU wide receiver John Franklin III was on the series’ initial season in 2016, which detailed the Lions’ 2015 season, while Bonner and current Owls quarterback De’Andre Johnson appeared on the second season, which debuted last July.

After two years at EMCC, “Last Chance U” moved to Independence College (Kan.) for the third season. To coincide with the new season’s premiere, Netflix also released an hour-long episode serving as a “where are they now?” special for some of the key characters from the first two seasons.

Johnson signed with FAU in Dec. 2016, shortly after the school hired Lane Kiffin. Bonner signed with the Owls two months later and Franklin, who joined Auburn after his stint at EMCC, transferred to the Owls in August.

“It’s been a magical season, I can honestly say that,” Johnson says. “Team going from 3-9 for the past three seasons and just having Coach Kiffin come in, change the whole identity, the whole culture.”

Roughly seven minutes are dedicated to the three stars, detailing their 2017 seasons and their love of Kiffin. Though they were both viewed as transfers who could provide immediate impacts, Johnson missed most of the season with blood clots and Bonner was mainly a special-teams player. After switching from quarterback to wide receiver, Franklin caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, adding 229 yards and two scores on 16 carries, mostly as a Wildcat quarterback.

Johnson was surprised when he learned Franklin was transferring to FAU, a move that came less than a month before the Owls began their season against Navy on Sept. 1.

“I’ve watched him go through being in Florida State’s quarterback room to going to East Mississippi’s quarterback room, to then going to Auburn,” Johnson says. “And so when John went to receiver, I’m like, ‘How is he taking this?'”

“For my last year, I just really wanted to get a little experience before I got into the next level,” says Franklin, who signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent and will attempt to play cornerback in the NFL. “I ultimately knew if I wanted to play at the next level, I was going to have to make that change. I wanted to do it now before I got into the next level and it’s too late.”

Other topics explored in the special include former EMCC academic counselor Brittany Wagner’s 10 Thousand Pencils foundation, Lions coach Buddy Stephens celebrating a 2017 National Championship, Allen’s redemption at Texas Tech, and running back Isaiah Wright’s legal issues. Wright is currently in jail for his ties to a 2017 homicide in Tennessee.

Currently fighting Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison for the starting quarterback job, Johnson praised Kiffin as a “dynamic play-caller.” Both Johnson and Bonner, who was one of the defense’s top players this spring, are expected to have major roles for the Owls this season.

As he did while at EMCC, Bonner steals the show with one-liners, comparing Franklin at one point to the popular cartoon character, Franklin the Turtle. While signing an autograph for a fan, Bonner makes reference to his nickname “Slim Boogaloo” and poses with young fans of the show.

“It’s cool to go to another state and city and they know who I am,” Bonner said. “I ain’t ever think it would come up like that, but they be real-deal liking me or something. It’s different, but I’m still myself, like I ain’t changed nothing.”

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