Princeton RB Frasier getting attention and offers

cbest@newsobserver.comOctober 7, 2013 

Photo By Damon Thomas

Johnny Fraiser (22) of Princeton stiff arms North Duplin's Trey Pate (53) during the first round of the NCHSAA 1A Football Playoffs last season.

DAMON THOMAS — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Johnny Frasier’s second try at football has gone better than he could have possibly dreamed. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back from Princeton High School is among the state’s leaders in all-purpose yardage (1,670) and touchdowns scored (17).

He’s garnering plenty of attention and some scholarship offers from Division I schools – North Carolina and Duke so far – but refuses to let that change his drive to be even better.

“He’s taken it the way you’d want any potential Division I athlete to take it. He’s using it to motivate him more,” said Princeton coach Derrick Minor of Frasier. “He wants to prove to them that he’s the real deal. He was on the phone with coach (UNC’s Larry) Fedora a couple of weeks ago, promised him three touchdowns and he went out and got them (in a 42-41 win over Clinton Union).

“He’s not going to let those coaches or anybody else down. He wants to impress people with his results.”

Frasier’s first experience in football wasn’t one that stuck, playing one year in a Pee Wee league. “I just couldn’t get myself into it,” he said.

Frasier considered himself to be a track athlete and he still is, having finished second in the state 100 meters championships in 2012 with a 10.74 finish.

But before starting high school, he figured he needed something to do in the fall when not running track.

“I basically decided to try football again to keep myself out of trouble,” Frasier said. “And it was the best decision of my life.”

Nagging injuries limited his playing time last year during his sophomore season until November. That’s when the Bulldogs, who were 2-8 during the regular season, reeled off three road playoff wins before falling to Plymouth, 42-20, in the 1A eastern regional championship game.

That run changed the outlook for Frasier and the entire Princeton program.

Frasier attended summer camps at North Carolina, N.C. State and East Carolina. He was surprised by a scholarship offer from Fedora after his trip to Chapel Hill for an individual player camp.

“Johnny’s work ethic changed after we had some success and he started getting some offers,” said Princeton junior quarterback Michael Wooten. “He’s fast; he’s strong; he’s got a great will to work.”

Most of Frasier’s hardest work comes in the weight room these days and it’s showing up in his running style.

“After our first couple of games, I realized that if I could get myself in the open field I could really help our team,” Frasier said. “So I’ve done more cutting, using moves to get in the open field than I was before.”

But Frasier has become a more powerful runner as well; one not afraid to deliver blows.

“Last year, he took a few hits and he was banged up,” Minor said. “Thanks to his work in the weight room, he’s running with real power, delivering hits. He’s committed to the weight room and he’s added power running with his overall speed.”

The Bulldogs are 3-3, coming off an open date after a 35-22 loss to state power Warsaw Kenan.

Frasier has rushed for 139 yards or more in each of his team’s first six games, including a 267-yard night against North Johnston. He has 1,009 yards rushing and 369 yards receiving this year.

Minor said Frasier’s added durability has allowed the team to use Frasier in more roles – at receiver, kick returner and on defense at times: “His confidence has increased so much. Last year, he was still trying to figure out what he could do.”

What excites Frasier the most right now is potential, not just in himself, but in what his team can accomplish with a solid finish to the regular season.

“I’ve got an awesome line, an awesome quarterback and awesome teammates,” Frasier said. “If we can click on both sides of the ball, if we can put that game together, I feel horrible for whoever we’re playing that night.”

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