Tom Osborne was an unpaid graduate assistant for Bob Devaney in the mid-1960s when the head coach gave the young guy a recruiting assignment: Go out to Malcolm, watch Larry Frost and report back.
“The next day they asked me how he did and I said, ‘Well, he carried the ball six times and he scored six touchdowns,'” Osborne recalled Friday. “I said, ‘That’s about as good as he could do.'”
Scott Frost told the same story earlier in the week, smiling all the way, except it was seven touchdowns on eight touches. Really, though, who’s counting? Father and son and the influential coach who tutored both at the University of Nebraska have swapped countless stories over the ensuing decades. The details are allowed to grow fuzzy over time.
Now Larry and Scott Frost get to share a new memory: They are the co-headliners of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame’s 2019 class.
“I’m honored to go in and it makes it even more special to have a chance to go in with dad,” Scott Frost said. “I’m just thrilled for dad. I know this means a lot to him and it means a lot to our family.”
Larry Frost graduated from Malcolm High School in 1965 after a record-setting 121 career touchdowns on the football field and amassing several school records in track and basketball. He was named the outstanding offensive player of the Shrine Game that year and went on to be a three-year contributor at wingback for the Huskers.
“Dad was a freak athlete,” Scott Frost said. “Dad was just naturally fast and explosive.”
“Larry was a relatively big guy for that time,” said Osborne, who was Larry’s position coach at NU. “He probably weighed around 190 pounds and he had good speed. He was a sprinter in track and so we offered him and, of course, he started for us for a couple of years and was a very fine player. He played wingback, which was kind of a combination of receiver and running back, and he also had to do some blocking.”
Indeed, Larry Frost lettered for Nebraska from 1967-69. According to Sports Reference, he amassed 742 yards of offense and a pair of touchdowns, mostly over his final two seasons.
More than 25 years later, Scott Frost became one of the most decorated players in high school history in Nebraska, amassing more than 10,000 yards at Wood River High.
“We recruited Scott probably as hard as anybody we’d ever recruited,” said Osborne, who was well into his history-making tenure as Nebraska’s head coach by that time.
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The Hall of Fame honor for Scott and Larry Frost — the induction ceremony is slated for Sept. 22 at Lincoln East High — comes 23 years after Scott’s mother, Carol, was inducted.
“I would like to think I deserved to be in and I wanted to wait to see if dad was ever going to get in and, if he would, I wanted to be able to go in at the same time,” Scott Frost said. “It’s taken dad a long time to get rewarded with this honor and I’m just glad this worked out.”
Carol Frost, of course, was a record-setting thrower in high school and college. Not surprisingly, she and Larry met on the field.
“Mom was throwing AAU and it was hard for them to find places to train back then, so dad’s senior year, she was in college at the university and went over and was throwing, I think javelin, at Malcolm and dad went over and asked if he could throw it back to her,” Scott said. “Dad started throwing it back to her and then when he got to the university they started dating and everything went from there.”
They moved all around, from Texas to Missouri, Lincoln High to Walthill and O’Neill and Gothenburg. They coached Scott together at Wood River.
“It’s fitting; I think their first date was to a high school basketball game, too,” Scott Frost said. “Nebraska high school sports has been our life.”
Since Scott became the head coach at NU in December 2017, his parents have been able to attend practice regularly. They often sit on the balcony above the Hawks Championship Center field, watching their son work.
“It’s one of the reasons I took this job,” Scott said. “It’s not just my parents, there are so many people that I know and care about in this state. Any given day at practice there’s sometimes two and sometimes 15 people that are the type of people that were at my wedding. When you throw on top of that the people of Nebraska and how welcoming and gracious they’ve been, Nebraska has special people. Anytime anything hard happens here, like we just went through with the flooding, and you see the type of character that shines through with the people of Nebraska and the way they’re able to help each other, the way they sacrifice for each other, the work ethic they have, it’s a special place.
“It’s not just the people that I know that I’m happy to be doing my job in front of, it’s this entire state, because I’m a Nebraska kid at heart.”
And now a state Hall of Famer, too. Just like his parents.