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Original Issue

Sideline Pattern

Tommie Frazier has always despised walking. After practice the junior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate for Nebraska would catch a ride with a team manager driving the equipment cart back to the locker room, a distance of about 150 yards. That was before a recurring blood clot in Frazier's right leg ended his season after four games. Now, walking is the only rehabilitation doctors allow him.

Last Saturday, Frazier briefly broke doctors' orders. He was the first Husker on the field before the start of Nebraska's game against Colorado, gingerly jogging with his arms raised overhead before turning to slap hands with his teammates. During warmups, Frazier tossed the ball around, then headed to the sidelines. When Cory Schlesinger scored to give the Cornhuskers a 7-0 lead, Frazier was the first player on the field to offer congratulations. "I'm a cheerleader now," he says. "Maybe I can't be in the game physically, but emotionally and mentally I'm right there. I read defenses and try to make calls that I would make during the game."

The transition from field to sidelines has been painful. Frazier was in the hospital recovering from surgery when Nebraska beat Oklahoma State 32-3 on Oct. 8. He watched from his bed. "That nearly killed him," says his mother, Priscilla.

Afterward, Frazier was reluctant to return to football. To avoid practice and quarterback meetings, he would visit the weight room or the library'. Then guard Guy McIntyre of the Green Bay Packers, himself sidelined with a blood clot in his left leg, called and encouraged Frazier to think about football again. So he is back attending meetings, watching practice—and wishing he could play.

Frazier must take medication for the next six weeks, but could he be back by bowl time? "Anything's possible," he says. Whenever he returns, expect him to run, not walk, onto the field.