Oct. 10, 2013
Guess what day it is... Today, Kiehl Frazier is an Auburn recevier (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. - Kiehl Frazier is on the go again, running around at practice and doing the things football players do.
Oh, no, not at quarterback, though that's where he started fall practice. And he's not at safety, where he spent two weeks after that. He's a receiver now, working there for a handful of weeks, learning the routes and how to block and figuring out how best to help Auburn win.
"It's a transition, but it's a little bit easier because I already know the offense and all the terminology, so I think it should go well," Frazier says. "I know all the plays. I've got to learn blocking techniques, and that's something I've never done, but once I get that down I'll be good and ready to go."
Frazier, the quarterback, hit 62-of-116 passes for 753 yards last season. He was in the quarterback race in spring practice this year, too. That's where he was when fall practice began, but was moved to defense as Nick Marshall moved to the top of the quarterback race.
Frazier's move didn't last long because coach Gus Malzahn asked him to move again, this time back to offense. Frazier's new role has taken on more significance since a season-ending injury to receiver Jaylon Denson against LSU.
"Coach Malzahn said he wanted me to get on the field in some way, and he thought this would be the best position," Frazier said. "My learning curve was going to be a little bit slower, but Jaylon went down and I had to speed it up a little bit."
Frazier was last seen in action as a receiver for seven plays in last week's 30-22 win over Ole Miss, and he'll be at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday, too, for a 1 p.m. homecoming game against Western Carolina.
"It was good just to get the experience, and getting to play against an SEC team my first time out was a learning experience. That should help going forward," Frazier said.
Does all this sound familiar? Kodi Burns made the switch from quarterback to receiver in 2009. Scored a touchdown the next season in the BCS national championship game, too. Today, Burns, a graduate assistant, is one of the Auburn coaches who can help Frazier find his way.
"He'll tell me about technique, but he really hasn't told me about his experience," Frazier said. "He's coached me up a little bit, though."
Malzahn said Frazier can follow in Burns' footsteps.
"He's a guy that understands the offense. He's a smart guy," Malzahn said. "He's similar to Kodi...played quarterback in this offense and Kodi picked it up very quick in the same type of role.
"We've always needed receivers to be able to block effectively on the perimeter. That's a big thing of what we do. That's a big part of it."
The primary coaching responsibility has fallen to Dameyune Craig, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Auburn history, who is the Tigers' receivers coach. He, too, can lend insight.
"Kiehl is more natural than I thought he would be at that position," Craig said. "He's got natural hands. He can really catch the ball. He just needs to learn the small things, like how to get off the pressure, and leverage on routes. But his natural athletic abilities are that he's a strong kid who can run. He's going to have a bright future."
Craig said Frazier is still learning how to block, something that is mandatory for Malzahn's receivers. But he does know the offense.
Still, Craig says, "it's a little bit different."
"The plays are called the same, but the formation is different. The first day he lined up at the wrong split. I said, 'You played quarterback. How can you line up wrong?' But it's different. You have to be more detailed as far as your splits, your assignments, your depth. At quarterback, you're just looking at the big picture."
Craig says Frazier's role as a receiver is still a bit undefined.
"But he's so natural at catching the football and running routes, and for only being out there for two weeks, it's amazing. I think he's got a big-time upside. And he's willing to work. He doesn't say a lot. If we can get that out of him and that confidence, I think he'll be fine."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: