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John Friesz


John Melvin Friesz

Inducted 2006

Date of Birth



Missoula, MT


University of Idaho (1986-1989)


Born in Missoula, Montana, John Friesz played football in Coeur d’Alene, a town located in Idaho’s panhandle 90 miles from the Canadian border. The summer before his senior season he attended the Idaho Vandal football camp and was noticed by then head coach Dennis Erickson. “Erickson saw some potential in me,” said Friesz. “He was wiling to take a chance on me.” Friesz never got the chance to play for the future national championship coach at Miami, as Erickson left after John’s red shirt freshman season. Fortunately, Friesz was able to continue to develop as he had the opportunity of playing for quality head coaches Keith Gilbertson and John L Smith and innovative coordinators such as Bill Diedrick and Bobby Petrino. “Bill Diedrick was the first coach that really fine-tuned my mechanics and got me thinking the way a quarterback has to think,” Friesz said. “Not just during the play, but how you carry yourself 24 hours a day.” After his red shirt season, Friesz was a back-up as a freshman throwing just 26 passes. He became a starter as a sophomore, leading the Vandals to the first of three consecutive Big Sky conference titles. Friesz was named a Division I-AA (FCS) second-team All-America as he threw 28 touchdown passes. The following year, he became a consensus first-team choice as Idaho reached the I-AA (FCS) semi-finals. In his senior year, Friesz became the first quarterback to win the Walter Payton Award as the outstanding payer in I-AA (FCS) football. That season he threw for 4,041 yards and 31 touchdowns. He averaged an incredible 367.4 yards per game and broke the 300-yard barrier in ten consecutive games. In one stretch he went 183 passes without an interception. In 1990, he was taken in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers and played for three other teams during an 11-season NFL career.


Height 6'4

Weight 214

Career Highlights

  • 1989 First Team All-America (FCS)
  • 1989 Walter Payton Award Winner
  • 1988 First Team All-America (FCS)
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