Great players help win football games and Nate Frazier is surely a great football player. Last year Frazier not only dominated Army but was a thorn in the side for all of Navy's opponents. In 2008 Frazier led all Mid defensive linemen with 44 tackles, tied Navy end Jabaree Tuani for the team lead in tackles for a loss with nine. He also recorded a sack, an interception, broke up a pass, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble. Frazier was rated the best player on the Navy team and at least one service mentioned him as one of the top 200 players in college football. You can also bet that he was the first name added to the 2009 preseason All-Service Academy Defensive team that was due to be released today or tomorrow.
Yesterday the Annapolis Capital reported that Frazier had been dismissed from the Navy football team. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo told the Capital that, "Nate is no longer on the team. That is permanent for the season." While the reason for his dismissal wasn't revealed it's believed that it could have been for a violation of the Navy's "Honor Concept."
Just what will this mean for Army's chances at beating Navy and ending a seven game loss streak? Not enough to start celebrations that would be classless anyway. However, one of the biggest questions regarding the 2009 Black Knight squad is the offensive line. The Army staff is working hard to get this unit ready for the September 5th opener at Eastern Michigan. The unit is small; averaging about 250 pounds per player, and is inexperienced. Frazier at 6-foot-3, 292 pounds would present a very formidable challenge for any Black Knight player lining up against him.
While the Army staff isn't giving their team any breaks over this news you can be sure that they are relieved that they won't have to devise a plan on how to block this monster of a player. Come December, instead of seeing the name "Nate Frazier" on the Midshipmen starting lineup they'll read Chase Burge, Jordan Stephens or Shane Bothel. All three of these guys may be decent players but it's unlikely that most Army fans have ever heard of any of them before.
In the end you have to surmise that while Army still has a long way to go to catch up with Navy, the gap between the two programs has just been narrowed a little more. It also means that come December when Army meets Navy, Black Knight slot backs and quarterbacks won't see big ole No. 99 coming after them and maybe, just maybe, that dreadful streak can be finally ended.
Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner (11) looks to pass as Navy's Nate Frazier (99) defends during the first half. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)