SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- TCU center James Fry didn't start playing football until high school.
He wanted to play, but he was always too big to play with kids his age and too young to play with bigger ones.
So he watched as his brother played and his dad coached Pop Warner league teams. He took up the saxophone and played in the junior high band.
"I was a big band nerd," Fry said proudly. "I loved playing an instrument."
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But a coach spotted his size in the hall, and he was finally playing football in ninth grade.
Fry, who turned 23 on Saturday, the day he played his final game at TCU, said he's ready to turn to a new chapter in his life. If professional football is in his future, great, but he'd be content taking up the sax again, perhaps doing some traveling.
"You play football for so long in your life it gets to a point that it needs to be your last game," Fry said last week as he prepared for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan State (6-6) Saturday night.
The game didn't finish in time for today's newspaper. Visit www.star-telegram.com/tcu for a complete recap.
Fry is one of six seniors who started their last game with TCU (7-5), including five on offense: fellow lineman Blaize Foltz, running back Matthew Tucker, tight end Corey Fuller and receiver Skye Dawson. Linebacker Kenny Cain, the lone senior starter on the defense, said he wants to finish with a win because "that last game is how they're going to remember you."
With this group of 20 seniors, including only 11 on scholarship (eighth fewest in the nation) a lot of victories will be how most TCU fans remember them, regardless of Saturday's outcome.
The group includes injured defensive end Ross Forrest, punter and holder Cale Patterson and long snapper Daniel Shelley, who has snapped the ball almost 400 times for the Frogs, including 148 punts and 58 field goals.
Running back Aundre Dean has played more this season with the injuries to Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. Dean entered Saturday with 278 yards on 63 carries, as many as he had combined in his first two years at TCU. He had 73 yards at Baylor and was close to scoring his first touchdown this season.
The 49-21 win over the Bears in October is probably high on most of their lists for favorite senior memory. But beating Texas in Austin for the first time in 42 years is something they'll brag about for the rest of their lives, Cain said.
"I'm going to look at all of them the same, but the one that kind of stands out is the Thanksgiving game," Cain said. "Every year from now on, even when my kids get here, there's going to be a game played on Thanksgiving Day and I'll be able to tell my child that was daddy on that field."
Fry said he'll finish his graduate degree in May or the summer.
"It is bittersweet because I do want to continue playing but there comes a point where you just have to stop, and this is the final chapter," Fry said. "Traveling is a big ambition of mine. I'd love to pick up an instrument."
Cain hopes to fulfill his NFL dream, but will miss his home for the past four years.
"I'm going to miss TCU, not just football, but everything about TCU -- school, class," he said. "It was all a great experience these last four years."
He regrets he won't get a chance to play with a young Big 12-leading defense next season.
"These guys are ready to step up to the plate," Cain said. "They're ready for the challenge. Anybody who knows TCU, knows how we prepare for the season and everything. As long as Gary Patterson is the head coach anything is possible."