WILLARD - Charlie Frye may be 3,000 miles away, but he's still very close to the hearts of his fans in Willard.
Frye, a 2000 graduate of Willard High School, was traded Monday from the Cleveland Browns to the Seattle Seahawks for a sixth-round pick in next year's draft.
Frye, a quarterback who spent the last two-plus seasons with the Browns after playing at the University of Akron, started Sunday's season opener against Pittsburgh but was benched early in the second quarter.
Willard Schools Superintendent Dennis Doughty said Frye has been great for Willard and things won't change even if his uniform has.
"Charlie is a great example of work ethic and professionalism for our community," Doughty said. "His handling of a very tough situation, not only the quarterback competition, but this whole situation has been impeccable. Charlie has done this through nothing but hard work. I can tell you, Charlie will do anything he can to be prepared to play for Seattle.
"His handling of difficult situations really allows us to admire him even more," the superintendent added. "There have been some real shots at him the last couple of weeks a lot of them undeserved but now he has a new opportunity."
Frye, the son of David and Sally Frye of Willard, has been a football junkie and Browns fan his entire life. From his days at Willard to his days at Akron, he always said his goal was to play in the National Football League. He was taken by the Browns in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft.
"I go back and stress his work ethic," Doughty said. "I think the Browns will attest that he was the first one in the film room and the last one off the field. Many, many hours in the weight room. I know that will continue."
Doughty, for one, suddenly is a Seahawks fan.
"I think there are a whole bunch of us who will go out and buy a jersey, or at least a T-shirt," he said.
Huron County Commissioner Mike Adelman, a longtime sports fan and commentator in the area, has been a Browns season ticket holder since 1972.
He has seen a number of quarterbacks come and go over the years.
"I don't know that number off the top on my head," Adelman said. "Mike Phipps. Brian Sipe. Dave Mays. Paul McDonald. Gary Danielson. Bernie Kosar. Mike Pagel. Don Strock. Todd Philcox. Vinnie Testavarde. Then the team went to Baltimore.
"In 1999 (when the Browns came back after a three-year hiatus) we started with Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Kelly Holcomb, Spergon Wynn actually started a game, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie, Derek Anderson and then, of course, they drafted Brady Quinn.
"I attended my first game at Cleveland Stadium in 1959 and Milt Plum was the quarterback."
The handwriting was on the wall for Frye as far as his future in Cleveland was concerned, Adelman said.
"What I made of it, certainly, back in April when they drafted Brady Quinn you knew there would be a quarterback change in Cleveland," Adelman said. "I always felt, for whatever reason, it always seemed to me they gave Derek Anderson every opportunity to win the starting job. But Brady Quinn held out and Charlie won the job. It just seemed pretty chaotic. That was proven when they had to flip a coin to decide who was going to start the preseason ... you knew there was something in the wind. Against Pittsburgh things didn't start out well and it got worse.
"Regardless of all of that, I'll just say I'm a Charlie Frye fan and I will be a fan of his if he is playing in Seattle or for the Baltimore Ravens, which is hard to say.
"I got to see him play on a number of occasions when he played at Willard, and a few times at Akron, and he always played with class. It was his dream to play for his hometown team ... now he's moving on to another challenge.
"He certainly has given a lot of pride to people in Huron County. He comes back Nov. 4 (when the Seahawks visit Cleveland) and I will be looking forward to that. Where I sit in section 104 he will be running out of the tunnel right in front of me ... we are still fans of Charlie Frye."
Chris Hawkins coached Frye at Willard and knew the quarterback was something special.
"I tried to get Ohio State and some of these other schools to listen," Hawkins said. "They (the Buckeyes) had the kid from Struthers, Rick McFadden, No. 1 on their list, Ben Roethlesberger No. 2 and Charlie No. 3. They passed on Ben and Charlie for McFadden and he never panned out. These Big Ten school are overlooking quarterbacks from these smaller schools.
"I always felt he (Frye) would play on Sundays. He not only had the ability, but he had the work ethic. He never took a day off. He spends a lot of time in the film room ... The Akron quarterback coach had to give him his own key to the film room. He does all of the little things.
"I haven't talked to him since the trade, but I'm telling you, I'm happy for him because he is out of that Cleveland situation. Their problems there go way past the quarterback situation. It is a mess there. I am a huge Mike Holmgren fan. He will be a Hall of Fame coach. He has coached Brett Farve, Jeff Garcia, Joe Montana and Steve Young. I think Charlie has a great opportunity to learn from one of the great offensive and quarterback coaches.
"Things happen for a reason," added Hawkins, who coaches the Galion football team but still teaches at Willard. "He might be stunned, but once he gets there I think he will be happy."
As a side note, Hawkins will bring his 1-2 Galion Tigers to Whitney Field on Friday to face the 2-1 Norwalk Truckers.