Franco Signs with Georgetown

Franco pitches at Andover last spring & signs his National Letter of Intent

Last Wednesday, Jojo Franco became the fifth player on this year’s baseball squad to commit to a Division I program when he signed his National Letter of Intent with Georgetown University. He joins Matt Mattimore ’95 (football) and Nick Miaritis ’01 (lacrosse) as Brookers who have represented both the Bears and the Hoyas, and hopes to join his predecessors as a collegiate All-American.

Franco’s baseball journey began when he was just four years old on a tee ball field in Queens. Coach Pitch, Elmjack Little League, and tri-state travel ball followed over the next four years until he began attending tournaments in Florida and California as a 10-year-old. By that time, he was ranked among the top 50 players in the country and began receiving invitations to top youth showcases through Team USA. That’s when his dream of playing college baseball was born, a goal that has fueled him in his three-and-a-half years of growth at Stony Brook.

Franco came to Stony Brook as a freshman and endured two years greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2022 would prove to be a coming out party for both Frano and the program. That year, coach Jon Brewer began 6:00am off-season lifting sessions with the team that allowed Franco to “tap into 100%” of his potential. “I always had the toughness, and last year’s work helped me get to the next level.” Having a clear goal in front of him–playing a national schedule against some of the best teams and players in America–continued to push him forward.

That all came together on a sunny day in Massachusetts last April when Franco engineered the finest pitching performance of his life. The Bears traveled to New England to face Phillips Academy Andover, a perennial northeast powerhouse, and the #1 ranked pitcher in the 2023 class, Thomas White. Franco outdueled the nation’s best ace with seven shutout innings to lead the Bears to a monumental 2-0 victory. “That was the most determined and focused I’ve ever been going into a game. There was no celebrating. It was all about the next inning. Nothing could bother me. Bad calls… a hit… I zoned it all out.”

Franco was the team’s undisputed leader in 2022 and guided the program to its first State Championship berth with numerous outstanding starts, including a victory in the state quarterfinals. After winning the team’s Excellence in Performance and Swanson Superior Performance Awards at Class Night, he spent most of his summer living in Georgia and playing for Team Elite, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. This summer crystallized his goal of playing Division I baseball as professional and collegiate scouts began to take notice of his performances.

Duke, Georgia, Tulane, Stetson, UAB, Tennessee Tech, Dayton, North Carolina A&T, and UNC Wilmington all expressed interest, but one school emerged as a favorite for Franco. Georgetown coaches attended several of his summer games in Georgia, and their authenticity and passion stood apart from the pack. “They reminded me of my Stony Brook coaches.” The Hoyas’ coach was on hand to watch Franco’s last start of the summer, but the start time continued to get pushed back due to inclement weather. The coach continued to change his flight in order to see Franco throw. His persistence was rewarded as the rising senior threw a complete game no-hitter.

Baseball was not the only reason Franco was attracted to Georgetown. “I wanted to go to a school with strong academics. Baseball is fleeting, and I wanted to make sure I had a fallback.” The fall semester was key for Franco, who was told by Georgetown he had a spot on the team as long as he continued his academic growth. A 3.61 GPA and a rise in his SAT scores sealed the deal with the Hoyas. “I’m so thankful to Mrs. Brewer for letting me study in her house, sometimes until 11:30pm, for the two weeks leading up to the SAT.”

While Franco has excelled on the field, he’s also made an immense impact off of it as a three-year member of Johnston Hall’s Dorm Council, a workjob captain, and a member of the Hispanic Student Union. As his time at One Chapman Parkway nears its completion in the coming months, he says he will take with him what he has learned from his peers as well as the relationships he’s built with the faculty children on campus, who come to the baseball games specifically to see him play.

Franco is quick to give credit to the many who helped him get to this point, including Eric Johnson and Chris Loo, who walked beside him through the college process, and Danielle Davey, Caswell Nilsen, and John Thiele, who wrote recommendation letters on his behalf. He lauded coach Jon Brewer’s wisdom and toughness, Earl Stroman’s “outstanding” training, and coaches Dustin Mones and Noah Bakker for bringing him into Stony Brook and helping him grow as a player.

But the lion’s share of praise he reserves for his parents for sending him to Stony Brook and pushing him to be great, but also trusting him to grow and excel on his own. He acknowledged how they sacrificed for his baseball career, sometimes pawning their jewelry or forgoing a mortgage payment in order to send him to a tournament. “I have been able to achieve so much with my people behind me.”

Franco’s individual achievements are many and worthy of recognition, but his focus for his senior season remains squarely on the team. When he is asked what his goal is for this spring, he just points to his ring finger. “I want to give Stony Brook a State Championship.”


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