Colorado is going to love George Frazier. He can do it all.
No, not the George Frazier that announces baseball games for the Colorado Rockies — the George Frazier that is playing on both sides of the ball for the University of Colorado football team.
Frazier’s impact may have seemingly appeared out of nowhere — he already has three touchdowns on offense and has gotten significant playing time (60 total plays) at defensive end in his first season — but his coaches say Frazier’s performance was in no way unanticipated.
“I think we had high expectations for him going into the year,” said running back and tight end coach Klayton Adams. “I wouldn’t say he’s a surprise at all. We thought he was going to be a very good player.”
Frazier thought he could make that immediate impression, even if it meant it wouldn’t transfer on the stat sheet.
“I came into the season trying to do whatever I could for the team. I wasn’t sure if there would be a lot of numbers or not,” Frazier said.
Frazier can play at the tight end and fullback position on offense, adding even more to his diversity as a football player. His specialty seems to be in short-yardage so far, with most of his touches coming near the goal line and in third-and-short situations. He’s also making strides as a defensive end.
“He missed some valuable time in camp when he was concentrating solely on offense, but he’s such a quick learner and he has a little bit of background on defense, so that’s helped him speed it up,” said defensive line coach Andy LaRussa. “He’s progressed nicely and is getting better week to week.”
So far as a freshman, Frazier has been more than open to moving around on the field. Once the season got into full swing, he started practicing with both sides of the ball rather than offense alone.
“Coming into the season, I honestly had no idea,” Frazier said about where he would play. “I was prepared to play fullback and a little tight end and just go from there. It just happened to be where I had to play defensive end too.”
In practice, Frazier needs to get time with both Adams and LaRussa. Adams explains what a normal day looks like for Frazier.
“He usually comes to my meeting first. All of the George Frazier stuff that he needs to see and watch on film and hear…that happens in the first part of our [offensive] meeting. Then we send him to the defensive meeting and we carry on with the rest of our stuff.”
It’s not as if this is anything new to Frazier — he’s been an offensive and defensive player his whole life. Growing up he played quarterback and linebacker, which he called his natural positions. In high school Frazier also played wide receiver, tight end and fullback.
“I’ve played so many positions growing up,” Frazier said. “If you have to put me [at a new position], I kind of already have a background at it and it’s easy to pick up on.”
Frazier is a smart guy. He has to be; as a freshman it’s hard enough to learn an offensive playbook or a defensive scheme, let alone both.
“He’s a guy that gets something the first time he goes through it,” Adams said. “He’s able to do it full speed because he’s got a pretty broad understanding of football and probably life in general. He’s a pretty mature guy.”
But it’s not all smarts. Frazier’s combination of athleticism and physical nature is what gives him the rare chance to participate on both sides of the field.
“He’s pretty mentally tough, physically tough, he’s a physical guy,” Adams said. “To play the two positions he’s playing, you’ve got to be tough.”
Understanding how offenses and defenses work is an instrumental part to Frazier’s success so far. Other players might have an idea of what the opposition is trying to do, but most haven’t experienced it for themselves. Frazier has lived both.
“Knowing what the other side of the ball is trying to do to you and how to counter that from an offensive standpoint, when he has to block a defensive end when he’s playing tight end or fullback, he knows what that guy is trying to do so he can counter it,” LaRussa said.
Where Frazier’s career will go in the future is still a mystery. He could eventually focus on one position like almost all other college football players, or he could continue the unlikely feat of playing on offense and defense.
“I don’t see any reason that he couldn’t help us on both sides, just because what the fullback does on offense is a little bit more of a limited role of what the defensive end does on defense,” Adams said. “His role defensively will not change, and his role offensively will probably change just week to week.”
The freshman still has plenty of time to grow as a football player, and coaches will place him wherever he can help the team the most.
“Depending on how his body grows that will determine a lot of his future,” LaRussa said. “If we’re able to keep him on defense we’re lucky, and if offense has him they’re lucky, and if we get to split him we’re all happy.”
Regardless of his future career, Frazier is confident he will be an asset to the Colorado football program.
In the end, he does it all for the love of the game.
“I just love playing football, so as many ways as I can get on the field I’m going to try to do so,” Frazier said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jared Funk-Breay at Jared.Funkbreay@colorado.edu