Senior center Keoki Fraser continues family tradition with the Wildcats
By Liz Heidenreich
Arizona Athletics Media Relations
There is no denying that the Arizona football program has undergone many changes since the Wildcats’ last bowl appearance in 1998. Loyal Wildcat fans have watched from the stands as the team has endured numerous transitions. But one family in particular has done more than watch the transitions; they have been a part of them.
There has been a Fraser on the Arizona football roster every year since the Wildcats won the Holiday Bowl six years ago. Senior center Keoki Fraser was just a junior in high school when his brother, Keoni, played as a freshman in that game. After graduating from Kailua High School in Kailua, Hawaii in 2000, Keoki followed in his brother’s footsteps and decided to play collegiate football as an Arizona Wildcat.
After watching his brother compete in a Wildcat jersey for two seasons, Fraser admits he had high expectations coming into the Arizona football program in 2000. The bowl game appearances and winning seasons Fraser envisioned when he stepped on the football field at Arizona for the first time have not come. Instead, Fraser has become a veteran of change, as he has played for three head coaches in his time with the Cats.
“The first coaching change was difficult for me,” Fraser said. “When coach (Dick) Tomey left, that was a hard deal. Since then, I’ve been an upper classman, and after two or three head coaches you get used to it and it becomes easier to adjust.”
Fraser’s willingness to overcome change also can be extended to his play on the field. He is a versatile lineman who will perform to the best of his ability at any position.
“Wherever the coaches need me to play is what I’ll do,” Fraser said. “If they need me to play center or guard, I’ll do the job the best that I can. That’s the way I approach everything I do. If I’m going to play center I will be the best center I can, if I play guard, I will be the best guard I can.”
The “team-first” attitude Fraser demonstrates in his willingness to switch positions has made him more than versatile ?- it also has made him a leader. He feels his role as an upper classman on the team goes beyond vocally encouraging the younger players; Fraser leads by working hard himself and showing others that hard work can pay off.
“I do whatever I can to help this team win,” Fraser said. “Whether it’s doing extra wind sprints to show the young guys that you have to work hard, or helping the young guys learn the plays. I perform my best individually and try to show everyone what you have to do to be successful.”
Now as a fifth-year senior and one of six captains on the team, the coaching staff recognizes Fraser’s ability to guide and direct other players around him. Offensive line coach Eric Wolford will look to Fraser to help lead the Wildcats to victory.
“Keoki is one of our leaders right now,” Wolford said. “We have high expectations for him on the offensive front. He is very smart and is what I like to call a student of the game, meaning that he is another coach on the field. He handles all of the adjustments on the field in between plays. He instructs a lot of other players on what to do and where to go during different adjustments. He is quite a pleasure to coach.”
Fraser’s determination to help the team perform to the best of its ability on and off the field is something he takes very seriously, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have fun. Outside life on the offensive line, Fraser is a veteran of video games, and he is proud of his title as the Madden Football champion of the team.
“I’m a funny guy, and I know how to have fun,” Fraser said. “I am the Madden champ on the team, and I just want everybody to know that.”
All joking aside, Fraser does not want to be remembered only for his video game skills. He wants to be remembered as a cornerstone of success for yet another renovated Arizona football program.
“It’s been five years since we had a winning season. A couple of years down the road, I want people to be able to say that I was one of the guys that helped turn the program around,” he said.
Fraser is confident that this team has allowed the change for the better to begin. When asked about his proudest moment as an Arizona Wildcat, he was quick to attribute that moment to his fellow teammates.
“Our team has worked so hard to bounce back after what happened last season,” Fraser said. “No one has felt sorry for themselves. I think that shows a lot of character for my teammates, and it says a lot for what we want to get accomplished here. I am just so proud of that. I’m sure the effort that we are putting in is going to give us something in return.”
Through the years of change and transition, the Fraser name has become a symbol of stability, and Keoki feels it will be strange to see a game next season without a Fraser on the roster.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “It’s been the last seven years that we’ve had a Fraser in the lineup. Everything I’ve learned and all the people I’ve met here have given me a great experience at the U of A, and I’m going to miss it.”
Article first appeared in the Sept. 4 Arizona football game program