Hometown: Bristol, Va
High School: Virginia HS
Year: RS Sophomore
Ian Frye was a soccer player for his entire life. He played for some elite travel squads as a teenager, and played 3 years of HS soccer. But as a HS freshman, he went out for the football team as a kicker, just as a way to keep in shape. To say that the move worked out would be an understatement. Frye was All-State as a K and P as a senior.
Frye was recruited by a number of schools, including Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Boston College. Few PKs are given scholarships out of HS, and Frye was no different. He chose to accepted a recruited walk-on position with the Hoos. His first season, he redshirted as Robert Randolph was in his final year as the PK. Chris Hinkebein handled the KOs and did so ably.
Last year, as a freshman, Frye was the backup PK and the primary KO guy. Drew Jarrett was in his final year, and was the primary PK. Frye attempted 5 FGs, making 3 and missing a 44 yarder against Wake Forest and a 22 yarder against NCSU. The miss against Wake was early in a game the Hoos ended up losing by just 6 points, so it certainly would've been helpful. Missing a 22 yard FG isn't easy (at least, not for a trained PK), but it came in a game the Hoos won 33-6, so it didn't really matter.
As the KO guy, Frye had 22 touchbacks in 48 KOs. That is a pretty good ratio. Frye, however, averaged just 62 yards per kickoff. Drew Jarrett, who isn't supposed to have as big a leg as Frye, averaged 63.8 yards on 6 KOs (3 touchbacks). The bigger problem for Frye was that his kickoffs were predictable. They all went to the same place. This made it easy for opposing teams to set up their returns. The Hoos gave up 2 KR TDs last year, and opponents averaged nearly 28 yards per return, which would've ranked 2nd in the nation for KRs.
Frye has potential. He has a big leg, as evidenced by the 22 touchbacks. Much of the problems on returns wasn't Frye's fault, the coverage teams were terrible. Teams were regularly returning kicks from out of the endzone because they were confident they could get a good return. Some of Frye's low average was due to higher kicks, an attempt to give his coverage team a better chance to get downfield.
As a PK, Frye also has potential. Again, he's got a big leg, and he's shown the ability to kick a long FG. He just needs to work on his consistency. He's got plenty of competition this year, although he enters camp atop the depth chart. Frye could very well start the season as the primary PK and KOS, but he may also be asked to focus on PK, and let somebody else handle the KOs. The top option for that would likely be redshirt freshman Dylan Sims.