Frohnapfel eager to prove himself
HUNTINGTON -- In his dream scenario, Eric Frohnapfel will make a one-handed catch next Sunday. There will be six West Virginia defenders draped all over him and he'll pull the football down right along the sideline.
Right in the vicinity of Montaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen.
"I want to make a play or something and just show him," Frohnapfel said.
Thirteen months ago, Frohnapfel made a decision that would have landed him in blue and gold for this week's upcoming Friends of Coal Bowl.
Yes, the tight end who now proudly rocks Marshall University kelly green was on his way to Morgantown.
It was late July 2010 and Frohnapfel made a verbal commitment to play for coach Bill Stewart and West Virginia.
But some funny things happened over the next six months. The Mountaineers lost a few games, their athletic director started to get frustrated, and Stewart was slowly being pushed out.
On Dec. 22, Dana Holgorsen, a pass-happy assistant from Oklahoma State, was named WVU's offensive coordinator for the 2011 season and the eventual head coach in 2012.
This was all news to Frohnapfel. The then-Colonial Forge High School senior hadn't heard a peep out of the place where he thought he would eventually call home.
"I was committed to West Virginia pretty early," he said. "I was committed for six months. And then I didn't hear from them in a long time with the whole coaching change."
Finally, Holgorsen came around. He called up Frohanpfel and scheduled to meet with him at his school in Stafford, Va.
So when that day arrived, Frohnapfel waited ... and waited ... and waited for his potential new coach's greeting.
"He was five hours late for the meeting," Frohnapfel said.
And for Holgorsen's next impression, he told the 6-foot-6, 223-pounder, "I run five-wides. I don't really use tight ends. At best you could probably play about 50 percent of the time in this offense."
It was all Frohnapfel needed to hear.
"I was out of there," he said.
An official visit to Marshall came the following day and his mind was made.
Frohnapfel left Holgorsen a voicemail shortly thereafter declaring his de-commitment from the Mountaineers and his commitment to join the Herd with twin brother Blake, a quarterback who had pledged to MU that July.
"(Blake) stayed on me a lot but I think he did a good job of respecting my decision," Frohnapfel said of his brother's recruiting during the mysterious silence from WVU. "But he did try to talk me into it and stuff.
"But we both wanted to make the decisions personally and it just ended up that we both liked Marshall the best."
Now nearly a month into his MU experience, Frohnapfel has perhaps made the most strides of any freshman. His solid hands and ability to stretch the field have him running with the first team.
When the two-deep is released at some point this week, the shaggy-haired rookie will probably be listed as your starting tight end.
"He's a player," said Marshall head coach Doc Holliday. "We're going to play our best guys, I don't care what class they are. There are going to be a lot of young guys playing. If he's the best guy, he's going to play.
"He's got all the intangibles. He's a talented guy. He's tough as it gets so there will be a place for him this year."
Next Sunday, his place will be Milan Puskar Stadium.
The former WVU commit will get his first chance to shine on the college level against ... WVU.
"When I was coming here, I always said, 'That game is going to be the biggest day of my life,'" Frohnapfel said. "I mean I'm going to have more games like that, but that's going to be crazy.
"And I'm really looking forward to it. And yeah, I can't believe it's so close.
"I'm very excited for it."
And who knows? Maybe he'll throw a friendly shout toward Holgorsen -- now WVU's head coach -- at some point before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
"I might shoot him a text or something," he said with a laugh. "Ask him, 'How's it going?'"