Charles Fryar Sets Sights On Nfl

Posted: May 07, 1989

After a glowing college football career at Nebraska, former Burlington City standout Charles Fryar assumed that his future would be determined during the recent NFL draft.

Fryar, a cousin of former Nebraska all-American and current New England Patriots receiver Irving Fryar, had been a three-year starter at cornerback for one of the nation's highest-profile football programs.

Last season, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder was named first-team all-Big 8. He grabbed five interceptions for the Big 8 champions, including two in his final game, a 23-3 loss to Miami in the Orange Bowl. Fryar had 33 unassisted tackles, eight assists and broke up four passes. As a junior, he was selected second-team all-league.

Despite these accomplishments, Fryar was bypassed in the recent draft. Totally.

While he hadn't envisioned getting drafted in the first few rounds, Fryar was perplexed over the snub.

However, Fryar didn't have too long to dwell on his misfortune. The day after the draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him to a free-agent contract.

Now he is on a mission to prove the skeptics wrong. In a way, the attitude displayed by the NFL had echoed the opinion voiced about Fryar after he led South Jersey in scoring at Burlington.

"They said that I played in a weak division (the Burlington County Freedom Division)," he said. "Many doubted I could make it at Nebraska. Then I started here for three years and made all-Big 8 and that wasn't good enough. I will just have to prove myself again."

Fryar suggests that his coaches at Nebraska didn't go out of their way to sing his praises to NFL scouts.

"I think our coaches could have promoted me better to the scouts," he said. "I really enjoyed playing at Nebraska and enjoyed playing for (secondary coach) George Darlington, but I didn't always feel there was the support I needed from some of the other coaches."

Now, despite his success, Fryar openly questions his decision to attend Nebraska.

"If I had to do it over again I wouldn't have gone here," he stated. "I would have gone to a smaller school. It seemed like a lot of guys who starred for smaller schools got a lot of attention from the scouts. I'm the victim of getting lost in the shuffle at the big-name school. The media here was hyped on promoting (all-America linebacker) Broderick Thomas."

(Thomas became a first-round pick by Tampa Bay.)

Fryar knows his size scared off numerous NFL teams, but he said his 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash should have been a major selling point. He also is supremely confident of his ability to cover receivers.

"In all my time I was only beaten badly one time by a receiver, Hart Lee Dykes," recalled Fryar. "Other than that I more than held my own against some of the top receivers around."

Oklahoma State's Dykes was selected in the first round by the New England Patriots.

But all that is behind Fryar as he prepares for tomorrow's mini-camp.

He said the Steelers are looking for him to make the team as a nickel back the first year. He could also emerge as a punt returner.

"They were 28th in pass defense last year and I feel I could make the team as a corner and also play special teams," said Fryar. "I feel good that many cornerbacks have made it in the NFL despite not being drafted. The best example is the guy for the Dallas Cowboys )Everson Walls)."

Being from the area, Fryar is familiar with the needs of the Eagles and he admits to being surprised that they didn't contact him.

"I thought I would at least get a tryout with the Eagles," he said. ''They are not that strong at cornerback. After that rookie (Eric Allen) who played last year, who do they have?"

Fryar got an early indication that he might not be drafted. He wasn't invited to the scouting combine workouts where many of the top-rated seniors were scrutinized by NFL scouts. But when the Steelers called the day after the draft and quickly signed him, his spirits lifted immediately. Now he wants to leave the disappointment of the draft snub behind.

"I was very surprised not being drafted," he said, "but (Steelers) coach Chuck Noll and (assistant) Joe Greene sat down with me and made me feel wanted, and I'm looking forward to playing on the next level."

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