The Indianapolis Colts have a new offensive play-caller in 30-year-old Parks Frazier. Here’s some background on Indy’s assistant coach.
A little over 24 hours after Jeff Saturday was named interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday has named pass game specialist and assistant quarterbacks coach, Parks Frazier, as the team’s next offensive play-caller. After team owner Jim Irsay elected to bypass more qualified candidates (on staff) for Saturday, it fits the script that Saturday has elevated a fellow inexperienced coach. The only question remains: who is Parks Frazier?
Who is Parks Frazier?
Parks Frazier is a former quarterback from the likes of Northeast Mississippi Community College and Murray State. Before transferring to Murray State, Frazier was coached under Ricky Smither at NMCC where he would lead the Tigers to playoffs for the first time in over a decade— throwing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Frazier would get to start in seven games for the Racers in 2013, where he would go on to post a stat line of 651 passing yards with a 4-5 touchdown-int ratio. Frazier would only see the field for one game— one where he wouldn’t attempt a pass —in his senior season.
What is Parks Frazier’s coaching experience?
Immediately after his playing days concluded, Frazier would enter the defensive quality control role with Samford for the Spring season of 2015. This is where Parks Frazier’s coaching career would begin, and fast forward only seven years later, Frazier is now the (interim) play-caller of an NFL team. Here’s a look at his coaching journey:
- Samford (Spring of 2015): Defensive Quality Control
- Middle Tennessee State (Fall of 2015): Defensive Quality Control
- Arkansas State (2016-2017): Offensive Graduate Assistant
- Indianapolis Colts (2018-2019): Assistant to the Head Coach
- Indianapolis Colts (2020): Offensive Quality Control
- Indianapolis Colts (2021-present): Assistant QBs Coach/Pass Game Specialist
As previously mentioned, ex-QB Parks Frazier would start his coaching career at Samford on the defensive side of the ball, however, his collegiate coaching career would soon end but not because of a firing. After serving the role of defensive quality control for two programs in a single season, (Samford in the spring of 2015 and Middle Tennessee State for the fall season) Frazier would join the Arkansas State coaching staff as an offensive graduate assistant for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
So what changed from his time as a low-level assistant in the college coaching ranks, to his hiring by Frank Reich? The Athletic’s Zak Keefer shared all the details here in his piece about the culmination of Parks Frazier as an NFL coach. Once with no money, no bed, and no apartment, Frazier’s college experience was only as illustrious as the field would provide. So how exactly did Frazier show up on Reich’s radar four years ago when Reich was assembling his coaching staff to begin his tenure as Colts’ HC?
With a friend who was living across the country, that’s how. An excerpt from Keefer’s story reads:
"In 2015, Frazier – along with Samford’s head coach, Chris Hatcher – convinced a former teammate and close friend, Spencer Phillips, to come work with them on the staff. Frazier’s pitch was sincere, if not overly convincing: ‘I’m not making any money, this living situation is awful, but it’s a freaking blast,’ he told Phillips."
Like Frazier, Phillips too was a dreamer. Phillips was coaching high school football and washing cars at a nearby dealership on the side just to make ends meet. He would follow Frazier across the country to Samford shortly thereafter where the duo would subsequently get paid zero dollars an hour. After the beginning was established in such an American-dream fashion, climbing the ranks was only fate.
The Frazier and Phillips duo would soon drift apart, as far as coaching together goes, but they never would climb said ranks without ensuring that the other got a fair chance to grab the next rung of the ladder. As previously mentioned, Frazier would only spend the spring season at Samford, where he’d join Middle Tennessee State in the fall, and soon thereafter would join the Arkansas State coaching staff for two seasons. Meanwhile, Phillips would remain at Samford, only before ambitiously shooting his shot at that year’s Senior Bowl with the then-head coach of the Eagles, Doug Pederson. Maybe it was the ambition or the perseverance, but nonetheless, Phillips would land a spot on Pederson’s staff and the rest, as they say, is history.
If you haven’t put the pieces together just yet, that Philadelphia connection is essentially what set the table for Parks Frazier. After two years of working together with the Philly staff, and one Super Bowl run later, Phillips was eager to share his recommendation to Frank Reich in light of his first head coaching job. Recounting the story to Keefer in the aforementioned piece, Phillips called Reich, as confident as ever in his guy, and told him:
"I’m gonna tell you this guy’s name…and there’s no one better. There’s not a better person, there’s no one who’s going to work harder. This is the smartest guy I know."
Lo and behold, a few weeks later, Reich called up Frazier via a FaceTime call. All in all, the informal interview was deemed to be aced. Six months later, Frazier quickly became Reich’s, right-hand man. The head coach’s personal liaison to the rest of the building, the two became a trustworthy tandem.
Frank Reich brought Parks Frazier to the Colts
Parks Frazier would be hired on as Frank Reich’s personal assistant ahead of the 2018 season, or in Dunder Mifflin terms, Frazier would officially become the assistant to the head coach. A rather thankless role, Frazier’s job certainly gets overlooked and is underappreciated by the casual fan. It may have appeared to be a job that assumed little to no say in game-day matters but that quickly proved to not be the case here.
Frank Reich and Parks Frazier became so in sync that Reich even explained, “He’s the first person I go to. No matter what it’s about, I just think that much of him.” Let me remind you, this was amidst an unlikely playoff push during the 2018 season. The Colts’ OC at the time, and for two additional seasons afterward, Nick Sirianni, couldn’t have had better things to say about his time with Frazier. “He’s a stud,” Sirianni said. “He’s gonna be a star.” That’s some high praise from the current head coach of the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles.
At first, Frazier was a groundhog for the Colts and more specifically Reich, digging up any and every potential play call. He was the voice for Reich on so many things, so he very well could be more qualified to call plays after all.