SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP)–When Kiehl Frazier — USA Today’s high school player of the year on offense — steps onto the field at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium in the fall, he may have the opportunity to follow both a Heisman Trophy winner and a national champion.
Frazier, a senior at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Ark., and one of the nation’s top recruits, will be in the mix to replace Cam Newton as the offensive leader of the Auburn Tigers.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” the 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback said. “There are a lot of expectations, of course, but I’m going to try not to emulate Cam, but to do my thing.”
Frazier’s “thing” on the field is giving opposing defenses fits with his ability to throw and to run. He led the Saints to their third straight state championship last fall, earning MVP honors in each year’s title game, establishing an Arkansas record.
In 15 games during his senior season, Frazier completed 63 percent of his passing attempts for 2,975 yards and 42 touchdowns, with only eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,164 yards and 22 touchdowns.
But as noteworthy as his football accomplishments are, those who know him say that off the field he’s equally as impressive.
“He’s a great kid,” said Josh Floyd, head football coach at Shiloh Christian (and son of Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church, formerly First Baptist Church, in Springdale, Ark., which operates the school).
“He’s a humble kid,” the coach said, “and I think that’s been a big key to his success. He knows where any ability he gets is from the Lord.”
Frazier grew up in a Christian home, and his grandfather was a pastor. Frazier became a Christian as a young boy and says his faith in the Lord is an ever-present priority in his life. His walk with the Lord is especially important as a source of strength to resist temptations common to high school students and to deal with the criticism that often comes with being a prominent young athlete.
“You’ve got to stay in the Word and not let that stuff get you down, and know that Christ has a plan for your life,” Frazier said in an interview with Baptist Press.
Going to a Christian school has been a blessing by giving him fellow students, teammates, teachers and coaches who help him grow in his faith, Frazier said.
“It’s fun to be around kids who win,” he said, “and kids who win with character.”
Away from football, Frazier has been involved in fundraising for an orphanage in Haiti badly damaged by the 2010 earthquake. He also regularly spends time with the younger students at Shiloh Christian, where he often visits their classroom to read to them and encourage them in other ways.
“I think he understands that he has an opportunity to pour his life into other people,” Josh Floyd said.
Frazier said he decided on Auburn in part because of his relationship with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, whom he has known for a few years. Malzahn coached at Shiloh Christian from 1996-2000 and at Springdale High School from 2001-05.
“The offense they run fits my style really well,” Frazier said, “so that was kind of the deciding factor why I went down there.”
But Floyd said another reason why Frazier decided on Auburn was spiritual in nature, since Malzahn and other coaches there are Christians, giving a spiritual dimension to Auburn that is different than most college football programs.
Whatever the future holds for Frazier during his collegiate career, Floyd is convinced that Frazier will be successful. Though he’s not a fiery, emotional leader like Tim Tebow, Floyd said Frazier is extremely competitive and works hard to improve himself.
“He wants to use his ability,” Floyd said, “in a positive way for the Lord.”
Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpnews.net), the sports service of Baptist Press. Ellsworth also is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.