CRANFORD, NJ — Will Fries is moving to Indiana soon, for work.
The Cranford native and former Cranford High School football player was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts during the 2021 NFL draft in May and was set to head west on Friday, July 16, to begin preseason training camp. Cranford residents sent him off at Cougar Headquarters, a local-spirit clothing and gear store, on Thursday, July 15, but not before taking photos and having him sign headshots, footballs and other gear.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Fries said in an interview with Union County LocalSource at the event, about the anticipation of being drafted. “I’m really lucky to have been drafted.”
An offensive lineman, Fries played college football at Penn State. He received an honorable mention for the Freshman All-American Team after his freshman year in 2017, an honorable mention for the All–Big Ten Team as a junior in 2019 and was an All–Big Ten selection as a senior in 2020. Also as a senior, he won the Penn State Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Fries is one of six former Penn State players drafted into the NFL this year; he was one of three in a row chosen from the school in the seventh round. His roommate, Michal Menet, was picked by the Arizona Cardinals a few minutes before he was chosen.
In May, Fries spent some time in Indianapolis, getting a feel for where he’ll be playing when the NFL 2021 season begins on Sunday, Sept. 12, when the Colts play the Seattle Seahawks. He met the coaches and staff, and said he is looking forward to meeting veteran players.
“I went out in May and got to see the culture,” he said. “It’s really nice out there. I’m excited to show up and work out and help the Colts.”
There are veterans on the team he’s looking forward to playing with, including offensive linemen Quenton Nelson, Eric William Fisher and Ryan Kelly.
“It’s a proven line,” Fries said. “Once the veterans get back, we have to get their stamp of approval. It’s hard work, but I’m looking forward to making the most of it.”
A 2016 graduate of CHS, Fries was on the high school football team that went undefeated in 2015 and won the North 2, Group 3 state championship against Chatham. He was surprised by the number of people who came to see him off at Cranford’s apparel store on Centennial Avenue.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but so many have come out,” Fries said. “It’s a great community and a great town that’s always supported me.”
Photos by Amanda Valentovic