BEREA, Ohio - When Charlie Frye was a youngster growing up in Willard, he idolized Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar.
Frye had a poster of Kosar taped to his bedroom wall.
Despite his unorthodox sidearm throwing motion and limited mobility, Kosar was one of the most popular players in Browns history, leading the Browns to three AFC championship game appearances.
Kosar, from nearby Boardman, and Frye struck up a friendship last year shortly after the Browns selected Frye in the third round of the NFL draft from the University of Akron.
Kosar, who doesn't have an official role with the organization, has quickly become Frye's friend and mentor.
Charlie Frye grew up in Willard, Ohio, and went to the University of Akron. He has always been a big Browns fan.
And with disgruntled Trent Dilfer gone, Kosar likely will play an even bigger role in the development of Frye, the Browns' latest starting quarterback.
"Bernie grew up near here, got drafted by the Browns, and developed into their starter," Frye said. "I'm in a very similar situation. My hometown is about an hour and a half from here, and the college I went to is 45 minutes away.
"I've bounced a lot of things off of Bernie since I first got to know him last year. One of Bernie's strengths as an NFL player was his smarts. He knew how to run an offense and how to win games. And he's tried to pass on some of that knowledge to me."
Kosar has taken such a liking to Frye that he suggested Frye wear his familiar No. 19 jersey.
Frye has resisted the temptation. He plans to keep wearing No. 9, partly out of respect for Kosar.
Frye, who played in seven games as a rookie last year, starting five, admits he has a long way to go before he can be compared to Kosar, who like Frye, is shy and steers away from the spotlight.
"Starting five games last year was a great experience for me, it was huge," said Frye, who will participate in the Browns quarterback school starting Tuesday. "You can't draw that kind of stuff up on a chalkboard or learn it in the classroom or on film. You need to be in the fire, so to speak, to really get a feel of what it's like, and I did that.
"Now that I'm the No. 1 guy, I just have to keep getting better and keep improving during minicamp and training camp. I can't afford to take a step back now. Everybody in the organization is counting on me."
Frye, 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, spent the first nine games last season sitting on the bench behind Dilfer, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers earlier this month for backup quarterback Ken Dorsey and a seventh-round draft pick.
Frye finally got his chance to play in the second quarter of a 22-0 shutout loss to the Miami Dolphins in week 10 after Dilfer was pulled from the game.
Dilfer was injured the next week against the Minnesota Vikings. Frye relieved him and then started the final five games for Cleveland, going 2-3.
Frye completed 59.4 percent of his passes (98 of 165) for 1,002 yards. He tossed six interceptions and four touchdown passes.
The Browns believe Frye is ready to fly solo.
He better be.
"Charlie has worked extremely hard this spring, and he's been here basically from sun up to sun down," Browns general manager Phil Savage said. "I think the players have gravitated toward him as the leader of the team on offense. I think he seems to be able to get the job done.
"That's the thing that's always been intriguing about him. He can look average all day long, but when the lights go on at night, he plays well. I think that's what we are banking on. When it really counts, he'll perform and produce."
Savage said the Browns will try to build their team around Frye, so he doesn't have to single-handedly carry the team.
Frye already has developed a close relationship with oft-injured tight end Kellen Winslow, who is expected back for the start of training camp. And Frye has bonded with star receiver Braylon Edwards, last year's first-round pick from Michigan, who could be out until early November while recovering from knee surgery.
"I just feel blessed to have the opportunity to be the starting quarterback of the Browns," Frye said. "I'm looking forward to being out there and throwing the ball to guys like Braylon, Kellen and Dennis [Northcutt]."
As Bernie Kosar proved, there's nothing Browns fans love more than a homegrown hero.
Charlie Frye would like nothing better than to duplicate Kosar's success.
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