When it was determined by doctors that the injured knee of Roman Fry wasn't going to be healthy enough to allow him to pursue his dream of professional football for at least six more months, the former Clemson player had two choices, either get a job or do intensive rehabilitation.
Thanks to a phone call out of the blue by a former staff member of the Clemson football team, Fry is lucky enough to combine his two choices.
Fry, who graduated from Clemson in December, is now an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Middle Tennessee State University, which strangely enough is the home of several former Tiger footballers.
"I'm rehabbing and working hard at the same time," he said. "What better place to work at than a weight room when you've got to do what I've got to do?"
It all started when not too long ago, Fry received a phone call from Russell Patterson, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Blue Raiders. Patterson, an Easley native, had spent four seasons as an assistant strength coach with Clemson.
The assistant strength job at MTSU was newly created and pays more like a graduate assistant spot than that of a true assistant. But that was just fine with Fry because it was either this or selling real estate.
Moreover, he's only given a six-month commitment and then after that it will be on a month-to-month basis as pursuing his professional dream is still the top priority.
It only seems fitting that Fry would end up at MTSU since the head coach is former Clemson assistant and recruiting coordinator Rick Stockstill. Former Tigers quarterback Willie Simmons is the running backs coach, while former Clemson receiver Justin Watts is the wide receivers coach.
Nonetheless, not getting drafted or signing with an NFL team was a cold dose of reality for Fry.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't," he said. "It was tough to take. I love football and to never have had any major injuries other than broken fingers in 14 years of playing football, the injury came at a really, really bad time."
But the silver lining in this is the fact that Fry one day hopes to be a football coach at some level, whether it be at high school or college.
"First and foremost, I still want to play," he said. "But I'd like to coach one day after I'm done, regardless of how long my career is."
And by being at MTSU, he's being afforded another chance to help his future as Stockstill said he will allow Fry to sit in on some coach meetings to see what exactly goes on and how things are done.
"I really am lucky to be in the position where I am," Fry said. "Just think, if Russell hadn't called, I'd be selling real estate. Instead, I'm working, rehabbing and getting ready for the future at a solid Division I program."
Fry Lands at MTSU; Still has NFL Options
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