AJ Francis is a defensive lineman with the Miami Dolphins. He played his college football at the University of Maryland. During his five years there — which included a red-shirt season — Francis tallied 143 tackles, 9.5 sacks and four blocked kicks. Francis has also been a member of the New England Patriots.
After going unselected in the 2013 NFL Draft, Francis signed with the Miami Dolphins on April 30, 2013. Nine NFL teams had reached out, offering the talented lineman free agent deals to come to their city, to play for their team. Caught in that bittersweet moment, between the sting of going undrafted and the thrill of deciding his future, the former Maryland defensive lineman picked the Miami Dolphins.
Francis, a four-year starter in College Park who earned all-ACC honorable mention in 2012, spent this winter near South Beach, training at Bommarito Performance Systems, operating under a strict organic diet and grueling schedule with regular 6 a.m. wakeup calls. Signing with the Dolphins offered familiarity, both with the personnel and the surrounding area.
One hour after accepting Miami’s offer, Francis whipped out a ring and proposed to Tatiana Uruburo, his girlfriend for more than two years. She said yes and all the excitement was captured on Francis’ Twitter which was named to Sports Illustrated Twitter 100 for his humor and witty tweets.
Francis’ two best attributes as far as NFL talent evaluators are concerned are his size (6-foot-5, 309 pounds) and his versatility. During his career at Maryland, Francis played every position on the defensive line and operated out of a regular 4-3 alignment and a 3-4 as well. Several teams were interested in him as a tackle or an end, while others saw him as a potential nose guard, capable of occupying blockers and keeping the line jammed up so backs have no place to run.
As a senior, Francis moved outside to the end position — where he’d never played before — and responded with a stellar season. He led the Terrapins with three recovered fumbles and three blocked kicks. He tied for second on the team with four sacks and was third with nine tackles for losses.
The featured yellow mesh laundry bag was issued and used by Francis when he was a member of the Terrapins in 2012. The bag is for small items and has been signed by the defensive tackle and he has added “Fear the Turtle 2012 ALL-ACC Honorable Mention.” His #96 is written in black.