Less than nine months ago, Rashad Frazier had never played in an organized football game.
He was just completing his junior year at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill where he played soccer, basketball and baseball.
As one of the tallest and strongest kids in school, Frazier had a football physique — but GSA does not offer football.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., on the other hand, does offer football. Now, with barely one season of high school football experience after returning to his native Middletown, Ohio, last summer, Frazier has landed a full scholarship to play in the prestigious Big Ten Conference for the Boilermakers beginning this fall.
Frazier, a 6-foot-5½, 235-pound defensive end, gave his verbal commitment to Purdue on Monday, and will sign his National Letter of Intent accepting the scholarship offer Wednesday morning. He plans to major in business.
“It’s a big thrill, I don’t really think it’s sunk in yet,” said Heather Macy of Blue Hill, Frazier’s mother.
“Rashad and I are the same in that neither one of us really jumps up and down about these kinds of things, but it’s definitely exciting.”
Frazier moved back to Middletown — located between Dayton and Cincinnati in southwestern Ohio — last summer to live with his father Sy Frazier, a former football and basketball standout at Middletown High School in the late 1980s.
Sports was a primary reason for the move.
“I moved out there with the idea of trying to earn a scholarship in basketball,” said Frazier, a three-year starter at center at George Stevens Academy. “But in talking with my dad, he thought I ought to try football because of my size and because I’m pretty athletic.”
The idea of playing football was an ambition Frazier had held quietly for several years, so it didn’t take much convincing for him to change his athletic course.
“Rashad always talked about football a lot,” said Macy. “When we lived there before they had a peewee football program, and we moved here [to Maine] just before he could start his first year of it, so he was always a little bummed about that.”
Frazier began working out shortly after moving to Middletown in mid-July, and he soon was encouraged to join the high school football team by Middies’ head coach Jason Krause.
“I had kept up with football my whole life, it was one of my favorite sports to watch,” Frazier said. “I was able to pick it up pretty quickly.”
Frazier’s impact on football at Middletown High School — with a student enrollment of approximately 1,800 — was immediate. In his lone season of varsity football, he was credited with 40 tackles, five quarterback sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while helping the Middies to a 10-2 record and the school’s first playoff berth in 19 years.
He was a Cincinnati Enquirer Division I (large school) All-Area selection, as well as a Greater Miami Conference first-team all-star who was rated a three-star prospect by the Rivals.com recruiting Web site.
Frazier drew considerable recruiting interest from throughout the Midwest, including Bowl Championship Series schools Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Miami University (Ohio), Kent State and Bowling Green.
“Midway through the season I started to get MAC [Mid-American Conference] offers,” said Frazier.
“Bowling Green was the first school to give me an offer, and then in early December Purdue came in and was the first BCS school to offer a scholarship.
“It got pretty hectic after that. I was getting phone calls about every night, and my mother was getting quite a few calls, too. I never imagined this.”
All the schools recruiting Frazier saw the 17-year-old as a pass rusher with great potential who could comfortably add 25 to 30 more pounds of strength during his college career while also continuing to improve his already impressive time of 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash and his 28-inch vertical leap.
“I just have to put the work in to get bigger, stronger, faster,” said Frazier, who ultimately opted not to play basketball this winter to focus on training for football.
Frazier made official recruiting visits to Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan State and Wisconsin, but it was the trip to Purdue on Jan. 15 that left the most lasting impression on Frazier and his mother.
“Purdue’s always been his No. 1 choice,” said Macy, who accompanied her son on that recruiting visit.
“He really liked the recruiter [assistant coach Brian Rock], and when he went there he loved everything about the school.”
Frazier, one of eight players on this year’s Middletown High team coached by Jason Krause to earn a Division I college scholarship, wasn’t the only focus of the recruitment process. Five different schools, the four to which he paid official visited plus Miami University (Ohio), sent representatives to Maine last month to visit with Macy.
“It basically came down to [Rashad] and me,” she said. “We decided together.”
Defensive end had been identified as one of Purdue’s biggest recruiting needs during the offseason, according to numerous reports, and Frazier may see immediate action with the Boilermakers.
“Even though it’s my first year playing football, I don’t really expect to redshirt,” said Frazier. “One of the reasons I liked Purdue so much, beyond the fact it has great academics, is I felt it was a good situation for me football-wise because I can come in and back up a senior [Gerald Gooden] and learn while I’m doing it.”
Purdue finished last season 5-7 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten Conference, and opens its 2010 schedule on Sept. 4 at Notre Dame.
“I’m really happy for Rashad,” said George Stevens boys basketball coach Dwayne Carter. “I’m glad he figured this out. This is something he really likes and is naturally good at, and he’s making the most of his opportunity.”