The chances of keeping Tommie Frazier out of the College Football Hall of Fame turned out to be a little like the futility of those Florida Gator defenders trying to stand him up 60 yards from paydirt in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.
Frazier eventually was going to get where he was supposed to go.
“I was patient,” Frazier said Tuesday. “Patience gets you where you need to be.
“I think the fans and media across the country did all my politicking for me. So I just sat back and just let everyone else do the talking. I knew my time was going to come.”
The former Nebraska quarterback on Tuesday was among 12 players selected to the College Football Hall of Fame. When Frazier is inducted on Dec. 10 in New York City, he will join 15 former Huskers and six former NU coaches in the Hall.
The fact that he was passed over his first two years on the ballot drew strong reaction, both locally and nationally, from many that viewed him as one of the great option quarterbacks in college football history.
“Tommie was an outstanding competitor,” former NU head coach Tom Osborne said. “He did everything he could to win, and was a good leader by example. He expected a lot out of himself and the people around him. He was an outstanding leader and catalyst and made everyone around him better.”
Osborne called Frazier a “natural option quarterback.”
“He had a good sense of timing -- when to pitch, when not to pitch,” Osborne said. “He had excellent balance, good speed and was very strong.”
Eric Crouch, who grew up watching Frazier and would follow as an NU option quarterback a few years later, said Frazier had a knack for seeing how things would unfold and reacting in a hurry.
“He was very decisive in what he did,” Crouch said. “There was no hesitating. If you talk to anybody who knows anything about the option game, if there's any hesitation in what you do those lanes and holes get cut off quickly.”
Crouch (1998 to 2001) and former NU defensive end Trev Alberts (1990-93) were among those not picked from the ballot of 77 players. Crouch was the only one of four former Heisman Trophy winners on the 2013 ballot to be bypassed (going in will be Vinny Testaverde, Ron Dayne and Danny Wuerffel).
Wuerffel was the Florida quarterback in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl when Frazier put the stamp on his legacy, winning MVP honors after rushing for 199 yards and passing for 105 in the 62-24 victory. Most memorable was his 75-yard run late in the third quarter when it appeared that any number of Gators could have stopped him before midfield.
“I just think that his command on the field was evident every time you watched him play,” Crouch said. “He played with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.”
Frazier is the first former Husker quarterback to go into the Hall of Fame, so he called it “quite an honor” when you consider Jerry Tagge, Dave Humm, Vince Ferragamo, Turner Gill and Steve Taylor among those before him, and Crouch afterwards.
Gill, who starred for Osborne from 1981 through '83, was an NU assistant coach during Frazier's time as a Husker.
“Turner Gill is more deserving than me to be the first Nebraska quarterback in the Hall of Fame because he taught me everything I know,” Frazier said. “Eric Crouch is also very deserving of the honor and hopefully his time will come soon.”
Frazier was the Heisman Trophy runner-up as a senior in 1995 and won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top quarterback. His record as a Husker starter was 33-3, and his final two seasons included back-to-back national championships.
His career took flight as a true freshman in 1992 when Osborne inserted him into the starting lineup for an Oct. 24 game at Missouri.
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“Tommie was better prepared to start as a freshman than any quarterback we had,” Osborne said. “That's not easy to do, but he was unusually mature and competitive. He had played at a high level in front of big crowds in high school, so going out and playing in a major college game was not intimidating to him.”
Despite missing seven games during his junior year because of blood clots, Frazier ranks No. 4 on the Huskers' all-time list for total offense (5,476 yards). The native of Bradenton, Fla., ran for 1,955 of those yards, averaging 5.7 per carry with 36 touchdowns.
“Tommie was the ultimate competitor, leader and champion that I have ever coached,” said Gill, now the head coach at Liberty University. “He demonstrated this from the first day at practice through the last football snap that he ever took at Nebraska.”
Frazier was a marquee recruit for Osborne in 1992 at a time when Nebraska was looking for ways to take the next step as a program. Frazier said Osborne took a big chance on him as a freshman, adding: “He gave me the keys to the car, and I think by him doing that showed me that he trusted me … and I think my career flourished from there.”
NU was 45-4 during his career, and his junior and senior seasons started a four-year run where the Huskers went 49-2 and won three national titles. If he had any regrets, Frazier said, it was maybe not winning another title in 1993, when the Huskers fell just short with an 18-16 loss to highly favored Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
“But two is still good,” he said.
One of his other strengths was an ability to let those around him do their thing. And Frazier admits he was surrounded by some amazing casts during his NU career.
“I'm taking those guys into the Hall of Fame with me,” he said.
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