Gridiron golfers

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Tommie Frazier, right, a former University of Nebraska quarterback, watched his ball heading toward the green Monday at Dalhousie Golf Club. Frazier played on a team with Jamie Williams, left, a former player for Nebraska and the San Francisco 49ers, during a fundraiser for Southeast Missouri State's football program. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

There was a distinct University of Nebraska flavor to Monday afternoon's tournament at Dalhousie Golf Club that served as a fundraiser for the Southeast Missouri State football program.

But that really shouldn't come as a surprise, since first-year Southeast coach Tony Samuel played at Nebraska from 1974 to 1977, was an assistant coach there from 1986 to 1996 and has several former Cornhuskers players or coaches on his Redhawks staff.

Five ex-Nebraska players came into town for the tournament -- and mingled with Southeast supporters beforehand and afterward -- the most notable being Tommie Frazier and Jamie Williams.

"It's nice to have these Nebraska guys in Cape Girardeau," Samuel said prior to the start of the TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Tournament, a four-person scramble that featured a full field of 33 teams. "It's good to get the support from guys that know what we do. They have been good ambassadors for us.

"It's a great turnout and hopefully this is something we'll be able to do every year, along with some other types of fundraisers. It's a nice way to get the community together, and our program can use the money."

There is probably not a bigger name in the storied history of Nebraska football than Frazier, who as quarterback directed the Cornhuskers to consecutive national championships in 1994 and 1995. Samuel was an assistant coach for those teams.

A four-year starter for Nebraska, Frazier captured most valuable player honors in both national championship games.

In 1995, Frazier was a first-team All-American, won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting and received both the UPI's Player of the Year and The Sporting News Offensive Player of the Year awards.

Named one of the 10 greatest college football players of the century by Sport magazine, Frazier's No. 15 jersey was retired by Nebraska in 1996.

"He was something," Samuel said.

Frazier, in his second season as the head coach at NAIA Doane (Neb.) College, said it was a no-brainer when Samuel asked him to help spice up the tournament. That's how much he admires and respects Samuel.

"When coach called and asked if I would help out, I said 'Count me in' without even looking at my calendar," Frazier said. "I wound up having to reschedule some appointments, but it didn't matter.

"He's one of the guys that always kept my spirits up when I had my [health] problems."

Frazier was bothered during portions of his Nebraska career by a serious blood clot, which later limited his professional opportunities.

"When you're not playing, you kind of get lost in the system," Frazier said. "Coach was always there for me, and we stay in touch."

Frazier said he has no doubt Samuel will succeed in building up Southeast's floundering program.

"Once he comes in here and implements his system, he'll do a good job here," Frazier said. "They couldn't have found a better guy. He's won championships as a player and coached championships."

As big as college football is in Nebraska, Frazier is one of the most recognizable figures in the state. He said fame never drove him, but helping the Cornhuskers win titles did.

"I didn't play just for fame, I just wanted to do the best I could, and I was surrounded by great players," Frazier said. "One of the goals I had was to win a national championship. I was fortunate, and once you get one, you want two."

Frazier made his mark as one of college football's premier dual-threat quarterbacks, a player who was able to dissect the opposition with his feet and his arm. He smiled when he was told he compares favorably to Vince Young, who led Texas to the most recent national championship by utilizing similar traits.

"I like the way he plays. He stays composed and doesn't let things get to his head," Frazier said. "Our games were a little different. We ran different types of offenses. But our end results were the same."

While Frazier never played in the NFL and had only a brief CFL career -- primarily due to his health problems -- Williams carved out a solid 12-year NFL career as a tight end for several teams from 1983 to 1994. He won a Super Bowl championship with the San Francisco 49ers in 1990.

"That was a thrill," said Williams, whose playing career at Nebraska intersected with Samuel's for a brief period. "Winning a Super Bowl, playing in the NFL, at Nebraska -- I've been very blessed in my life."

Like Frazier, Williams said he was honored to come in for the golf tournament -- and all the way from California, where he said he works as a filmmaker while also coaching high school football part-time.

"He was my mentor," Williams said of Samuel. "He was an upperclassmen and I was an 18-year-old freshman who had never been anywhere. He showed me the ropes."

Like Frazier, Williams is confident Southeast football fans will experience good things in the future with Samuel at the helm.

"He's always been a leader, he's always had a vision," Williams said. "He can't be a one-man gang, he'll need support from the university, his staff, his players.

"But he's a winner and he knows how to relate to young people. I'm excited the university brought Tony in."

Other ex-Cornhuskers on hand from out of town Monday were Ricky Greene, Neil Harris and Todd Proffitt. They all played at Nebraska from the early-to-mid-1980s.

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