Johnny Frasier put on football pads for the first time three years ago as a newcomer to a sport that would alter the course of his life. The North Carolina native surged into the starting lineup at Princeton High School as a sophomore and hasn't slowed down since, rushing for 4,834 yards and 66 touchdowns in two seasons.
"I kind of fell into football after never playing before high school," Frasier said. "It felt natural right away, and I was moved up to varsity after a few games. My role has continued to increase."
That may be the understatement of this recruiting cycle.
He assumed the starting job in 2012, averaging 7.8 yards per carry en route to 1,792 yards and 21 touchdowns. Frasier followed with a monstrous junior campaign, gaining 12.2 yards per rushing attempt and accumulating 3,045 yards and 45 scores on the ground.
"That's when you know you've got a gift from the good Lord," Princeton head coach Derrick Minor said. "For him to find immediate success like he has is a sign that he is blessed and meant to play this game."
College programs quickly took notice.
Georgia, North Carolina, Duke and NC State each offered in 2013. The trajectory of his recruitment altered in early February when Florida State offered during a two-week stretch that also saw Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee join the mix.
"It was immediately clear he was most excited about that Florida State offer," Minor said. "I think we all had a sense that's the school that really grabbed his attention."
Frasier formally reciprocated the interest from Florida State on Aug. 11, becoming the 19th member of a Seminoles class rated fifth nationally in 247Sports' national rankings.
"Florida State had been my leader for a long time, and I just couldn't see anyone catching up," Frasier said. "I wanted to make the announcement rather than wait and risk seeing FSU fill up its spots at my position."
"That was a concern," he said. "You don't want to be the one left out, missing an opportunity because someone else made their decision before you."
A pair of recent Seminoles pledges further convinced Frasier that Tallahassee was an ideal landing spot. He applauded the team's efforts of July 31 when 4-star quarterbacks Deondre Francois and Kai Locksley committed to Florida State within a half hour of each other.
The development provided one of the most surreal moments of this recruiting class and motivated Frasier to follow them onto the defending national champion's bandwagon.
"Their decisions definitely impacted my choice," he said. "Your quarterback runs the whole offense, so it's important to have a good one. I think Florida State has a strong future on offense with those two guys in the mix now."
Of course, Florida State already has one heck of a quarterback who could still be around when Frasier arrives on campus. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is just a redshirt sophomore, though many expect him to depart for the NFL draft after this season if he stays healthy.
"Winston is a tremendous player, but it's unlikely he'll still be around when I get to FSU," Frasier said. "It would be a blessing to compete with him, but it didn't make sense for me to include that in the equation for my decision because it probably won't happen."
Fraiser, who compares himself to former Florida and Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith, is more realistic about the prospect of teaming up with running back Dalvin Cook. The 5-star 2014 signee is on campus as a true freshman, and the two could create quite a tandem in coming years.
"It's going to be a special thing when Cook and I get together," Frasier said. "We'll run Florida State to another national championship."
The 5'11", 200-pound prospect can create opportunities regardless of where he attacks the defense. Frasier's physical build enables him to brush off contact while above-average speed (clocked at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, per 247Sports) presents breakaway possibilities.
"Johnny can take on that role of workhorse back because he gained a lot of confidence last season and wants the ball in every crucial situation," Minor said. "He has the mindset to carry the ball 20-30 times per game in college if that's what the team needs."
Frasier can also do damage downfield, evidenced by a career-best receiving campaign last fall. He caught 25 passes for 555 yards and five touchdowns, pushing his 2013 season total to 50 offensive scores.
"He's a special, dual-threat running back," Minor said. "We use him in the screen game with a lot of success, flare him out into a high-wide situation and just attempt to create quality opportunities for Johnny in space as a receiver. He shows good hands and great control of body. People overlook that part of his game because he's such a dominant rusher."
Though Frasier is steadfast in his commitment to the Seminoles—he calls it a 99.9 percent done deal—there are still several campus visits in the works. His list of anticipated college trips includes Michigan, LSU, South Carolina, Michigan State and Tennessee.
"Look, I love Florida State, but I feel like it's important to check out some other options before the decision is final," Frasier said. "I'd be very happy to be a Seminole on national signing day."
All quotes courtesy of B/R national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.
Recruit statistics and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.