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August 30, 2008Londen Fryar has already been to Memorial Stadium once in his life, but he was so young at the time that he has no recollection of the experience.
Saturday night, Fryar will be back in Lincoln for another visit to the stadium and there's a pretty good chance he'll remember this experience for many years to come. He'll be suited up, playing cornerback for Western Michigan as the Broncos take on Nebraska in the season opener for both teams.
"I think it will be a great opportunity to go play in a great venue like that with the stadium and the fans," the Bronco senior said earlier this week. "I'm just really excited to go play at Nebraska. It's a big historic school in college football. I think it will be a really good experience and a lifetime experience."
Fryar's dad, former Husker wingback and All-American Irving Fryar, will also be in the stadium on Saturday, standing on the Western Michigan sideline and rooting for his son's team.
"He (Irving Fryar) is going to be cheering for me. Blood is thicker than water," Londen Fryar said. "It's ironic to me that it's my last year and I get to go play my dad's alma mater."
Londen Fryar said he talks with his father on a regular basis about football, but there's been no specific discussion of the game at Nebraska.
"He just asks me how practice is going and how I'm holding up," Londen Fryar said. "We don't really talk about Nebraska."
Ironically, had things gone differently, Londen Fryar might be playing for Nebraska this weekend and his dad would be on the sideline rooting for the Huskers.
Coming out of Holy Cross High School (Jobstown, Pa.) in 2004, Londen Fryar had strong interest in following his father's footsteps and playing for Nebraska, however Bill Callahan, the Huskers' new coach at the time, never tendered a scholarship offer. Several eastern schools, including Rutgers and West Virginia, were interested, but Londen Fryar chose to accept a scholarship from Western Michigan.
"I went to Western Michigan because it seemed like the place for me," he said. "It was a program on the rise. The facilities are great and the players here are great and I like the campus a lot."
Londen Fryar came to Western Michigan expecting to make a name for himself as a wide receiver, the same position his father played during a decorated 17-year career in the National Football League that included five Pro Bowl appearances. Irving Fryar, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft, played for the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles and Redskins during his professional career.
Londen Fryar began his collegiate career as a receiver, but was moved to cornerback prior to his sophomore season in 2006.
"We were just lacking talent over on the defensive side of the ball," Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit said. "He wasn't really flourishing as a wide receiver. In time, I think he could've been pretty good. We just needed some severe help over on the other side."
The switch to cornerback has turned out to be the right decision for Londen Fryar and the Broncos. He's a two-time All-Mid American Conference selection at the position entering his senior season.
"It's been a good move. I'm having fun on the defensive side of the ball," he said. "They took me in like a brother. My teammates made it really easy for me to go over there and switch to the other side of the ball. They helped with me out with the coverages and the calls."
Londen Fryar is one of several experienced members of the Broncos' secondary, a unit considered to be tops in the MAC.
Cubit said he isn't surprised by Londen Fryar's success at cornerback. In fact, Cubit said he told his assistants that Londen Fryar would earn a starting role once he moved to the defensive side of the ball.
"I think he's a better defensive back then he was at the time at receiver," Cubit said. "Of course, in time, he might have been a really good receiver."
Londen Fryar is being mentioned as a potential NFL draft pick next spring, but for now he's focused strictly on his senior season and ending his collegiate career with a MAC championship.
"I think everyone has aspirations to go beyond college ball, but I'll worry about that after the season. I don't really think about that right now," he said. "My goals are just to play hard, finish every game, have great technique every game and win a MAC championship, of course."
Londen Fryar can think of no better way of starting his final season at Western Michigan than getting a victory against dad's old school on Saturday night.
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