Connor Frazier among locals propelling Towson to FCS semifinals

December 19, 2013

Damascus QB ConnorFrazier breaks for a first half gain against Quince Orchard on September 10, 2010 in Washington, D.C. {Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post}

When quarterback/punter/wildcat specialist/wide receiver Connor Frazier committed to Towson in 2010, the Tigers had just wrapped up a 1-10 season and were solid bets to dwell annually in the Colonial Athletic Association’s cellar.

But Frazier, a first-team All-Met as a quarterback for Damascus (technically he was honored as a punter, but only because now-Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan and now-Fordham QB Michael Nebrich were also on the team), could feel change coming in Towson.

“When I committed, just from talking to the coaches, I could really tell they had something going up here,” Frazier said. “Something big was about to happen. Luckily it happened my first year here.”

Frazier red-shirted as a freshman the next year, and the Tigers went 9-3 and were CAA Champions.

This season, Towson is charging further into the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs than it ever has before: the Tigers face Eastern Washington in Washington Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Interestingly, Frazier and the Tigers beat Nebrich’s Fordham squad 48-28 in the second round of the playoffs, then downed Eastern Illinois 49-39 in the quarterfinals last Friday. Frazier, officially the Tigers’ backup quarterback but also a wide receiver, punter, and wildcat specialist on occasion, caught a touchdown in that game, Towson’s 12th win of the season — the most in school history.

Frazier is one of several area players filling roles large and small for Towson. Forty-six Maryland natives populate the Tigers’ roster, including eight Prince George’s County products, six from Montgomery County and six from Howard County. Anne Arundel, Calvert and Frederick counties are also represented.

Starting quarterback Peter Athens led Huntingtown to the state tournament as a senior. He connects with fellow SMAC alum Derrick Joseph, who graduated from McDonough and has made 29 catches for 252 yards for the Tigers this year. Joseph has also returned 32 kicks for 765 yards. Athens’s leading target — Spencer Wilkins — is a senior from Mount Hebron in Howard County. Wilkins has hauled in 40 balls for 691 yards and four touchdowns. The team’s third-leading receiver, senior tight end James Oboh, is a Sherwood alum, and has made 23 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns this season.

DuVal High School is well-represented on Towson’s offensive line, where former Tigers teammates Eric Pike and Randall Harris have started every game and were all-conference players this season. They block for freshman running back Darius Victor, also from Prince George’s County. Victor graduated from Northwestern and is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 595 yards and seven touchdowns. He rushed for 1,787 yards and 26 touchdowns for Northwestern last year.

Of all the local players on the Towson roster, junior defensive end Drew Cheripko probably has bragging rights: Cheripko, who has 46 tackles and six sacks this season, played high school football for the Northwest Jaguars, the newly crowned Maryland 4A state champions.

“It’s always fun to have people from the same state as you,” Frazier said. “There’s a bunch of other people from Montgomery County, and we always talk about high school football and how our teams are doing and things like that. Joke around about whose team is better.”

What may have once been high school grudges now bond the Tigers, who Frazier said are “tight-knit” and have increasingly strong chemistry this season. Their makeup will be tested Saturday when they try to beat a top-three-seeded team, No. 3 Eastern Washington,  for the second time in two weeks.

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Tariq Lee | December 19, 2013