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Belated 29 Days to Kickoff! - Kiehl Frazier

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I believed the hype. Sorry y’all.

Auburn v Mississippi State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.

THE RECRUIT

“A big, athletic quarterback that has a big arm and is a good runner. On the move, Frazier shows good elusiveness and change of direction. He has the power to pull away from an arm tackle and the shake to make a defender miss. He has very good natural arm strength and can get good velocity on the ball without having to overthrow. Shows good touch on swing passes. More consistency in his footwork will make him even more accurate.” - Scott Kennedy, 247 Sports

This was the all-time lockiest lock in the history of locks. Kiehl Frazier, high school phenom and #3 dual-threat QB in the country in the 2011 class, was on offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s radar for years. Frazier played at Shiloh HS in Arkansas, where Malzahn made his name in the late 90’s with his HUNH offense. Malzahn had offered Fraizer all the way back in 2008 (when Malzahn was OC at Tulsa and Frazier a sophomore in high school). After watching Gus’s offense with Cam Newton at the helm, it was understandable just how insane the hype was for Frazier coming to Auburn.

Frazier committed to the Tigers in during Big Cat Weekend in 2010, and while Cam was putting up the best season in college football history, Frazier was blasting high school defenses to the tune of 3,000 yards and 42 touchdowns passing and 1,200 yards and another 22 touchdowns rushing. The dynasty was coming together quite nicely...

THE PLAYER

Not everyone is Cam Newton, though, no matter how much we want them to be. Even with all the hype, an offseason-long QB competition yielded Barrett Trotter as the starting quarterback. No matter - this would just give Gus more time to work with his prodigy as a redshirt, or maybe work him into a few packages as a runner. Right? RIGHT?

After two weeks, two heart attacks, and two decent but non-Cam-Newton performances from Trotter, Fraizer began to be worked into the offensive gameplan. It started with just a few plays per game: one rush for three yards against Clemson, three rushes for 30 yards and an incomplete pass against FAU. And then he became a big part of the run game. Fraizer, as a sort of proto-Wildcat QB, rushed 72 times for 300 yards the rest of the season. His passing left plenty to be desired, going just 5-12 with 2 interceptions, but that could be improved with another offseason of Gus, right?

Well, here’s the thing. Gus left to go to Arkansas State as a head coach. And with him went any chance of Frazier working out at Auburn. When Chizik brought in Scott Loeffler to run a pro-style offense (he knew Tom Brady!), it should have been obvious to every Auburn fan what was coming. But, hype and fandom have a funny way of obscuring what seems obvious in retrospect. With Trotter having graduated, Frazier actually won the job over Clint Moseley in the fall. In his five starts to begin the season, the dual threat QB went 56/103 for 664 yards with two touchdowns and EIGHT interceptions. On the ground? A total of 36 carries for -9 yards. Yeesh.

Needless to say, Frazier was broken at this point. The season was falling apart at the seams for the whole team, and a change was made to start Moseley at QB the rest of the way. Not that it much mattered.

Auburn v Clemson Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There’s a world in which Frazier was a good college quarterback. Maybe Gus Malzahn stays at Tulsa, Frazier plays his college football there with Gus as his coordinator for his whole career, and he becomes a G5 star. Maybe Auburn doesn’t force him into a Wildcat role in 2011 and allows him to grow as a passer. Maybe Chizik doesn’t switch to a pro-style offense in 2012, and actually gives him a chance to succeed. Unfortunately, none of those things happened.

Gus Malzahn returned to the Plains in 2013, and included Frazier in the QB competition, along with Jonathan Wallace, JUCO transfer Nick Marshall, and prized recruit Jeremy Johnson. Frazier was the first to drop out of the competition, though, as he switched to safety during camp. He wouldn’t ever see the field on defense, but he did get to play a few snaps at wildcat QB in mop-up situations in 2013.

Frazier decided to transfer back home in 2014, his senior year, and nobody could blame him. The 2013 season showed him there was no place for him to play at Auburn, and he still wanted to show he could be a quarterback. At DII Ouachita Baptist, Frazier finally found success at the college level when he led the Tigers (fitting) to a 10-1 record, a Great American Conference, and a DII Playoff berth.

Film of Frazier at Ouachita (WAH-chi-TAW) isn’t the easiest to come by, but I did find this gem. Trailing by 8 late in the fourth quarter against instate rival Harding, Fraizer led a drive for the ages to tie it up. Synced up with the Tigers’ radio call, this 5 minute video is worth the watch. It’s fun, it’s dumb, it’s got a great call. It’s college football. And after three years of failing, Frazier got to win at college football.