Jim Brown: Frye#8217;s a big winner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Charlie Frye has made the Browns worth watching, which isn’t easy when a team has a 4-9 record.

Aren’t you intrigued by the rookie from the University of Akron, whose poise seems far beyond a kid making his second pro start?

If not, maybe you should listen to what Jim Brown said after the 23-20 loss Sunday to the first-place Cincinnati Bengals.

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&uot;He’s a winner, a championship-type guy,&uot; the Hall of Fame running back said. &uot;I’ve thought that for a while.&uot;

Brown praised Frye’s poise. He talked about Frye’s knack of &uot;throwing on the run and making good throws.&uot; He has been impressed with how Frye has stayed above the quarterback debate.

&uot;He’s a man, mature beyond his years,&uot; said Brown, who serves as the executive adviser for the team.

Yes, Frye’s inexperience showed, but so did his promise. He doesn’t have an extremely strong arm, but his passes usually are on the mark. It’s really surprising how he’s able to run at nearly full speed and deliver a superb 35-yard pass at the same time.

Remember this about the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Frye _ he’s a gifted athlete. He has some speed and strength, and he can change directions to dodge tacklers. He was a star basketball player at Willard High, and some of those skills serve him well in football.

You could see it on that 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter when he bolted around end, surprising the defense as he dashed into the corner of the end zone.

He also made a very nice toss to tight end Steve Heiden for another touchdown. On the day, Frye was 16-of-24 for 138 yards with one touchdown, one interception.

He is accustomed to a schedule stacked against him, so what the NFL offers comes as no shock in terms of being on the road with no one on his side but his teammates.

Nor does Frye have that sense of entitlement that comes with being the Big Man on campus. He was just another student at a mostly commuter state school, driving a beat-up car hoping to prepare himself for a good job after college.

Frye spent the first 10 games of this season doing more than just holding a clipboard and wearing a baseball cap on the sidelines as he backed up veteran Trent Dilfer.

He has been watching, listening, learning.

Dilfer has been a terrific mentor for the guy whom Dilfer knows eventually will take his job.

It now appears that eventually has arrived. Frye has three more games this season to lock down a starting job for next year. And so far, it looks like he’s on the way to doing just that.

Terry Pluto is a sports columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal.