Local quarterbacks had the opportunity to learn from a legend on Thursday with two-time NCAA championship quarterback Tommie Frazier Jr. in town.
The former Nebraska quarterback and 1995 Heisman runner up was in Brookings on Thursday, putting on a quarterback camp for a total of 15 kids from six football programs on the Southern Oregon and Northern California Coast.
“It was a great camp,” said Brookings-Harbor head coach Shaun Bavaro. “It is a huge benefit to the kids on the northern coast and southern coast of Oregon to get to see someone like this from out of the area. They don’t get all the opportunities as the kids that live on the I-5, or in the valley area. So it is great to bring something close to home and be able for them to get to experience that.”
Frazier said he has a lot of experience putting on such camps for young quarterbacks, though most of his previous camps have taken place much closer to his current home in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I’ve done quarterback camps for years now,” Frazier said. “I used to do about 10 a summer, and that number has dropped down as I have gotten older and my job started taking me different places. I still try to do about three or four a year, and I try to keep them small and intimate.
“This is probably the biggest camp that I have done in the last couple years. The reason why is because I like to be able to coach each kid. When you get too many kids you really can’t coach all the kids the way that you want to. Today I was able to communicate with each kid and say, ‘Hey, lets try this.’”
In just two hours, the quarterbacks were put through a crash course in quarterbacking, focusing on everything from footwork to pocket awareness.
“The way he talked about throwing the ball really helped me,” said Del Norte senior quarterback Ethan Price. “Sometimes when I go to throw a short route I clutch, so my shoulder jams up and I throw it into the dirt or if I get too long I throw it over the top. He showed us how to control that so you aren’t jamming as much. I’m going to focus on that because I throw really really fast — sometimes in dumb situations where I don’t really need to. So I’m going to focus on that a lot.”
Price said he also learned a little more about what it takes to play quarterback after high school.
“He said a lot that you need footwork to be a good quarterback and to be successful,” Price said. “You can have a strong arm, but if your footwork is poor then you aren’t going to get any looks (from colleges) or anything. That is what quarterback coaches and offensive coordinators look for in a quarterback — technique.”
Although each of the quarterbacks hopefully has a better understanding of those techniques, Frazier said the lessons learned in camp will only truly impact players performances on the field if they stick with it.
“I try to give them drills that they don’t need coaches around for,” Frazier said. “They can do this themselves in the backyard, they can do it on the beach, they can get some buddies together and go out and do these drills. The only way that you are going to get better is by doing stuff at home — not when you are around the coaches.”
Frazier said that is how he was able to become a highly coveted recruit in the early ‘90s, with scholarship offers from more than 80 schools around the country. Frazier said he didn’t go to many fancy football camps as a kid, but he sure played a lot of football.
“I grew up on the west coast of Florida and we didn’t have very many camps,” he said. “Down there you usually play football year round though, and we were always outside and playing football or doing something.
“There wasn’t a coach around, but we were still out there doing drills and working on things that we learned. That is the only way you get better — you have to do it. That is what I am trying to teach them today.”
Frazier said that from what he saw, many of the quarterbacks on hand are already well on their way.
“Of course you have JV and varsity guys here, and there are some guys who are changing their offense, but I thought there were two or three guys here that have the potential to be very good quarterbacks,” Frazier said. “I think one or two of them may have the opportunity to play at a smaller Division I school, or even a bigger Division I school depending on the style of the offense.
“Then of course there were others that could go Division II, Division III or junior college. I just want to encourage them to stick with it. If this is what you want to do, master it. You don’t have to be the best athlete, but if your fundamentals, techniques and footwork is there, you can go anywhere.”
A total of four quarterbacks from Del Norte — Price, Konnor Price, Hunter Giddings, and Daylen O’Reilley — attended the camp, along with quarterbacks from Bandon, Gold Beach, Brookings-Harbor, Eureka and Fortuna.
“Hopefully they were able to pick up one or two things that will make them better this fall,” Bavaro said. “The idea is that each of these kids take what they learned today and bring it back to their program.”
Each school that brought quarterbacks to work with Frazier also came with their head football coach in tow.
“To have Humboldt and Southern Oregon schools all together under one roof was fantastic,” said Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova. “The great part is that every head coach was here. That showed that they really believe in this — that it is good for their kids, the message is great, and the cost is phenomenal.”
Frazier goes west
Frazier said he likes to put on various camps to help young quarterbacks learn the game — it’s an easy way for him and other former players to give back.
After quarterbacking at Nebraska and moving to Omaha after his CFL career was cut short by injury, Frazier said most of the camps he has put on have been around the Midwest.
In fact, Thursday’s trip was the first time Frazier has been in the area at all.
“I was shocked with all the winding roads and the fires and things like that. I live in Omaha (Nebraska) and most our roads are straight,” he said. “Coming here I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. Nebraska is all corn fields, so I like seeing the change in scenery. Here you got the mountains and the trees so I am enjoying myself. I’m impressed with the scenery and the community. It has been very nice so far.”
Frazier was convinced to come out to the coast to put on a camp by his longtime friend and 2004 Del Norte High School graduate Ashley Goodman. Goodman is a professional strength and conditioning coach who has worked with professional and college athletes since graduating from the University of Nevada.
Goodman has been coming back to the area each summer since 2016 to help local football teams in Humboldt, Del Norte and Curry counties in strength and conditioning drills. This year she wanted to do something more for local teams, so she reached out to Frazier.
Frazier said Goodman floated the idea to him during a casual conversation earlier this summer and a couple weeks later the Tommie Frazier Jr. Quarterback Camp was on.
“It all came together in about two weeks from the time we talked about it to the time it was booked on the calendar. It was a good experience,” Frazier said. “I loved coming up here and helping the kids. That is what it is all about for me — being a former quarterback and a guy who has been where they are trying to get. Any knowledge that I have I want to come up and give to them.”
Nova said he was floored when he first heard that Frazier was willing to come out and help.
“What a great gesture from a person that is at a level that a lot of our kids strive to be at,” Nova said. “For him to come from Omaha to do it, and to do it for just the cost of airfare and a nice room, was fantastic.”
The camp may not be a one-time thing either. Frazier said he is certainly open to the possibility of a return trip to the area.
“I’d love to come back,” Frazier said. “If I can help people in a certain area and they want me back, then I am coming back there. Hopefully I can bring back a couple other guys that I played with in college.”
Sit down with the Warriors
A couple hours after the completion of the quarterback camp in Brookings, Frazier Jr. met up with about 30 members of the Del Norte football team for a question and answer session originally scheduled for 30 minutes that lasted a little over an hour.
Frazier stressed the importance of not only building football skills, but in building character in order to be successful both on and off the field.
Players also had the opportunity to ask Fraizer a wide range of questions, picking the quarterback’s brain on everything from recruiting, networking, college life, school, his experience at the NFL combine, his favorite players as a kid, and much more.
Through it all, Frazier seemed to keep circling back to the importance of setting goals, and being willing to put in the work to achieve those goals.
To underscore that point, Frazier brought with him eight impressive rings that he earned throughout his football career — four Big Eight championship rings, two NCAA national championship rings, a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award ring he won in 1995, and his College Football Hall of Fame ring.
“Those rings all symbolize goals that I set, and that we set as a team,” Frazier said.
Frazier also stressed the importance of setting lofty goals and not getting discouraged if you fall short.
Though his career was certainly successful, Frazier said he fell short of a couple of the goals he set for himself throughout his career including winning a Heisman Trophy (he finished second to Eddie George in 1996), and his lifelong goal of playing in the NFL which was ultimately derailed by a problem with blood clots in his leg — a side effect of Crohn’s Disease.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .