Dr. Henry Frazier: What the Doctor Ordered for Rebuilding College Football Programs

Dr. Henry Frazier III has the right title.  No, he is not a medical doctor, and his Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership. Interestingly, he specializes in reviving and building winning college football programs.

The current head coach at Virginia State, Dr. Frazier has an impeccable win-loss record during his years of coaching. Whether as the head coach or an assistant, he is a difference-maker.

 It all started for Dr. Frazier as a youngster growing up in the DMV area.

“My mother had all three of us before the age of 18,” said Frazier.  

“Bessie Harris is my best friend.  She is the best woman that I have ever known,” he added, referring to his mother. “When My father passed when I was [2 years old], she kept it all together when she faced the challenge of raising us in the projects of LeDetroit Park (in Northwest, D.C.).”

Community support also helped Frazier along the way.

“I was blessed because I had a support system from Number 13 Police and Girls Club and K.C. Lewis Elementary Rec.  It continued when I went to Fairmont Heights High School. There were strong Black male figures who helped me navigate my way through some of the adversity that I faced growing up.  The love and nurturing of my mother and that strong support system proved to be a Godsend for me.  Coaching became easy because of that preparation and influence.”

Playing football at Fairmont Heights High School later earned Frazier a scholarship to Bowie State.

“When I was recruited to Bowie, the program had not had much success,” he recalled.  “I think that they saw something in me. We were able to do some things to rebuild the program and gain some success.”

Following a successful career at quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1986-89, he would return to serve as an assistant coach at Bowie State before receiving his first head coaching job at Central High School from 1994-98.  He not only coached football there, he also served as a teacher on the faculty and coached wrestling and baseball.

In 1999, he was hired as head coach at his alma mater.  The program had not had success since his departure in 1989, but with him at the helm, Bowie won back-to-back CIAA East Division titles in 2002-03.

His next step was to take his coaching acumen to the Division 1 level at Prairie View A&M, but despite his short success at Bowie, there were a lot who questioned his sanity. Prairie View A&M had lost 80 straight games during the 90’s, an NCAA record for Division 1.

“There were a number of people who told me that it was coaching suicide,” said Dr. Frazier. “I looked at it differently.  I saw it as an opportunity to build a program.  I felt that there was no way to go but up.  All those mentors and role models helped prepare me to take on challenges so I was confident that I would have success.”

From 2004-2010, Prairie View experienced one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history, posting an impressive record of 43-30 (31-26 SWAC) in his time there, while leading the team to the 2009 SWAC Championship. For his remarkable accomplishment, he received several national and local honors, including the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award for the best Football College Subdivision (FCS) coach in the country. When he resigned in 2010, he left as the second-winningest head coach in Prairie View’s history.

With his stock rising,  Frazier moved on to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).  Following his departure from NCCU after two seasons, Frazier had a number of positions ranging from high school vice principal to high school athletics director at Dunbar Senior High School in Washington, D.C.  

In what was perhaps one of his biggest achievements, he was Director of Leadership and Character Development for the University of Maryland under Head Coach Mike Locksley.

In a return to coaching Frazier served as an assistant to the head coach at Bowie State from 2017-2020 under one of his mentees, Damian Wilson, the current head coach at Morgan State.  Antone Sewell has known Dr. Frazier all the way back from their playing days at Fairmont Heights to Bowie State and as his assistant at Prairie View.

“He was very hard on me as a freshman and I just could not understand until I got into my junior and senior season,” recalled Sewell, current assistant coach at Morgan State. “He has not only been a mentor for many young people, he has also been instrumental in developing coaches.”

Sewell went on to explain why Frazier is still able to revive programs after all these years.

“Coach Frazier has that unique ability to maintain some of the philosophy from the past but at the same time, adapt to today’s athletes.”

In 2022, Frazier was named head coach of Virginia State University, where he went 6-4 (5-3 CIAA) in just his first season.  The Trojans are currently off to one of the best starts in recent history at 6-0. Incidentally, the Virginia State program was 3-6 before his arrival.

“I like to think that coaching and reviving and rebuilding football programs is my ministry,” he noted. “Just like my mentors balanced caring and loving but would not let me get away with making bad choices, I have adopted that same philosophy.”

Frazier has authored a five-part series, “City Boy C-Man.  It is a guide for young people on making the right choices when faced with everyday challenges.

“It is based on my childhood experiences and some of my encounters growing up in Washington, D.C.,” said Frazier. “It is for young people, grades 2 through 6.  It is based on the 5 C’s, Character, Community, Confidence, Courage and Caring as the formula for a successful life.”