Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Hardly a day goes by when Afolabi Laguda doesn’t answer to George Frazier.
Laguda and Frazier are both seniors and captains for the Colorado football team.
They are also roommates and have been for more than two years.
“Every day I come out on this field, and I know every day George hits this field … we empty the tank,” Laguda said. “By that I mean, I don’t want to go home and talk to George about, ‘Hey man, I wish I would have did this on this play.’ In the classroom, he pushes me academically and I push him.
“George is a leader. He is an alpha male and people look up to an alpha male.”
A 6-foot-2, 280-pound senior with a booming voice and commanding presence, Frazier leads on and off the field and is one of the players the defending Pac-12 South champion Buffaloes will depend on most this season, which opens Sept. 1 against Colorado State.
A two-year captain, Frazier is a starter at tight end, a role player on the defensive line and a key member of the special teams units. In the locker room, he’s earned as much respect as anybody.
“All of that molds him into the captain that we need him to be and that he has been,” said junior receiver Jay MacIntyre, the son of head coach Mike MacIntyre. “He’s just an awesome dude all-around and I think everyone has the ultimate respect for George Frazier.
“He’s able to relate to anybody on the team in any way.”
Being a captain and a leader is something Frazier takes seriously.
“It definitely means a lot, just knowing that I have pretty much every single players respect, just knowing they trust me a lot,” Frazier said. “My dad always told me, ‘If you’re doing something, put your all into it.’ I’ve put my all into it and guys see that and guys know that I’m not out here slacking. They know they can trust me to do my job.”
Frazier’s job has changed quite a bit over the years. He came to CU as a true freshman in 2013, recruited to play linebacker. That year, he was moved to fullback.
During his career, he’s played tight end and fullback on offense. He played defensive end in CU’s 4-3 defense in 2014. He’s now playing defensive line in the Buffs’ 3-4 scheme.
CU’s Mr. Versatility, Frazier in 2014 became the first Buffalo to play on both sides of the ball in the same game since 2005. He could do it again this year.
“God has a plan for everybody, so I’m just going with what he has put in front of me,” he said. “All my life I’ve played multiple positions. It’s a lot of fun to learn so many positions in college at such a high level. It means a lot.”
Playing offense, defense and special teams has given Frazier credibility as a leader with every player on the roster. How he treats them gives him even more.
“He likes to make his presence known and he likes to be the head guy,” said Trey Udoffia, a redshirt freshman cornerback. “He’s going to let you know when you’re doing something bad and we need to pick it up. I think he’s a really good leader. He definitely gets his point across. I respect him a whole lot.”
Off the field, Frazier has been a model student who earned his bachelor’s degree in three and a half years and is set to graduate with his master’s degree in December. His path is one that academic coordinator Katie Bason uses an example to others.
He’s also been a model citizen, with one exception, and it’s that exception that has made him an even stronger leader.
In the summer of 2015, Frazier was arrested on suspicion of DUI after he fell asleep at the wheel of his car while stopped at an intersection. It surprised coach MacIntyre because it was so out of character for Frazier.
More than two years later, that has proven to be an isolated incident.
“Life is messy sometimes and you make mistakes,” MacIntyre said. “How you handle that mistake really shows your true character and your maturity after that, especially when you’re young. What he has done since then and shown has been awesome.”
Frazier turned that incident into an opportunity to grow, and it didn’t take long to regain trust from his coaches and teammates.
“Whenever you make a mistake, especially one as large as that one, you always have to earn something back,” he said. “It’s never an easy road to get it back. I made a mistake and I just owned up to it and moved forward.
“It kind of opened my eyes to what can happen if you keep acting like a child. Doing childish things is not something you can do at this level and not something a person in my position can do. It kind of opened my eyes to that and made me realize I have to work and keep my head on right.”
Making a mistake, owning up to it and then learning from it has given Frazier even more respect as a captain.
“A lot of leaders speak on what they don’t have experience in, but George has experience in a lot and in life,” Laguda said. “A lot of guys see George as a success. He’s a multiple-year captain. When you can do that in an athletic sport at this level, you definitely stand out in my opinion.”
To Frazier, the Buffaloes are his family, and nothing means more to him than family. In fact, family is at the root of his nickname – “G5” – and the fact that he wears No. 5 on the field. He is the fifth in a line of George Fraziers in his family, going back to his great-great grandfather.
“Being the fifth, it means everything to me,” he said, adding that if he has a son, he will name him George, as well. “The way my dad carries himself and the way my grandfather carries himself and the way they raised me, it set the standard of what’s expected.
“Knowing how all those men are set me up to want to be an even better person. I want to be the best person I possibly can be.”
It’s not simply honoring the family name that inspires Frazier, however. He’s also driven to honor the Buffs and those he plays with at CU.
“To me, I look at my team as my brothers, so they’re my family, as well,” he said. “I’m very family-oriented, and I’d do anything for them and anything for my guys.”