By Michael Schwartz
CASSANDRA TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA senior center Keoki Fraser came to the UA after his brother, Keoni, enjoyed success as a Wildcat defensive lineman under former head coach Dick Tomey.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 22, 2004
While center Keoki Fraser has been a mainstay on the Arizona football team's offensive line the past three years, he wasn't the first Fraser to start on a Wildcat line.
That would be his brother, Keoni Fraser, who played defensive tackle for UA during the last years of the Dick Tomey era.
"He was my idol when it comes to playing football, and he was the best defensive lineman I've ever played against," Keoki said. "I just looked up to him because he was so good and he played so hard every week. He was a great player, so it was good to learn from him."
Keoki got to experience just how hard his brother played every day in practice his freshman year, when Keoni started at defensive tackle. Keoki said it was hard going up against his senior brother, but that it was worth it.
"I loved it," he said. "What sucks was I tried to block against him and he was real hard to block, but I think he definitely made me better and I enjoyed getting better. Every day he came out here and tried to beat me up, and that made me a better player. He was kicking my ass everyday basically."
Nowadays, the six-foot-three-inch, 295-pound senior lineman is the one beating up on younger teammates in practice. Keoki started the season on the Outland Trophy watch list, the award annually presented to the top interior lineman in college football on either side of the ball, and last year he earned honorable mention all-Pac-10 honors.
In all, Keoki has started 35 games on the UA offensive line, including the past 29 consecutively. However, he may never have left his Kailua, Hawaii, childhood home for Tucson if his brother was not already here.
"Part of it was because my brother was there and I loved coach Tomey, (the coach) at the time," Keoki said. "He was a great coach and I just wanted to play for a coach like him."
Keoki's parents, Norman and Janielle Fraser, played a large role in the development of the two Pacific 10 Conference-caliber linemen. The Frasers even moved to Tucson to support Keoki in person.
"They played a huge role in our football careers," Keoki said. "My mom and my dad have been to pretty much every game I've ever played in my life. They've always had tremendous support. They've always had nothing but love for us when it came to playing football, and they set the foundation for what it takes to work hard and be successful at something."
While Keoki still has five games remaining in his collegiate career, Keoni now coaches high school football on the staff of Pueblo High School's division 4A football team in Tucson. Keoni's team will take a three-game winning streak into tonight's game against Sabino.
If Keoki, a sociology major, cannot make it in the NFL he said that he plans to once again follow his brother's footsteps to a high school coaching position. Many Internet draft sites peg Fraser as a second-day draft pick, but Fraser said he does not know where he stands in the eyes of NFL officials.
"I'm just focusing on playing good each week and helping the team get a win and everything else will take care of itself," he said. "I'll see what happens with football, but if it doesn't work out I've got my degree in December and I'll go from there, get a coaching job and be a teacher at some high school."