He appears more comfortable now.
"Everything happens for a reason," Francis said. "I stuck through last year and that's a great thing. I was blessed with an opportunity to learn the system."
This, however, is the last opportunity for the player. It might be a worry to the coaches and fans that, in effect, he has to start over and learn a new 3-4 defensive scheme. Also, there are new assistants on that side of the ball.
"When the [new] coaches first came in, I had no idea," Francis said. "I played a 3-4 a long time ago in high school, but I was an inside linebacker. I never played outside. That was sort of new for me."
He seems at ease, however, as a Buck (outside) linebacker. Responsibilities have changed, yet Francis seems OK.
"Contain the quarterback," he said of responsibility changes from the strong-side position he played last season. "That's a lot different. And play fast. Give great effort. They show you technique. I always give great effort. Technique falls in line."
Francis added that the WVU defense is likewise falling in line. Despite the scheme change, he claims the unit is in better shape now than it was a season ago at this time.
"We're all on the same page," Francis said. "I think everyone that's a backup is on the same page as those on first team. There are no starters per se. If you rotate, you're considered a starter."
One coach said Francis "has to be disruptive in this defense," so consider him a key for next season. He's fighting with Morgantown High product Tyler Anderson at Buck, but the hope is Francis can be the man while Anderson helps at defensive end.
"I'm ready for that," Francis said of the prospect of starting.
The linebacker, by the way, came from Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. It's where WVU also landed Mark Glowinski, an incoming offensive lineman the coaches are hoping offers immediate help.
"I played with Mark a long time ago," Francis said. "I believe I was a senior and he was a freshman. There was another lineman there before Mark who got into things off the field. It caused him to go home. The kid sent home was pretty good. I thought he was really good, actually.
"When I called there to check on Mark, they said he improved a lot since that kid left. And they said he was now better than the kid that left. Mark should be a great player coming in."
And if Glowinski struggles, odds are he'll have a friend to lean on in Francis.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.