PASADENA — It was almost a year ago that Chico Fraley was sprawled unconscious on a rain-slick street in Seattle.
The car in which he was riding skidded and was struck from behind by another vehicle.
"I was ejected from the back of the hatchback," said Fraley, Washington's junior inside linebacker from Bishop Amat High. "I don't remember anything. Only what people tell me."
The other occupants in the car, cornerback Dana Hall, the driver, and former teammate Ivory Randle, were shaken up but uninjured.
"I was the first one who got to him," Hall said. "He wasn't breathing at the time."
Facial scars are the only physical evidence of Fraley's accident. He said that he plans to have cosmetic surgery sometime next year when the scars are completely healed.
"I was very fortunate," Fraley said.
He has had his share of misfortune.
Midway through the 1989 season he suffered broken ribs in a game against California and didn't play again until the Dec. 30 Freedom Bowl game against Florida.
Then, eight days later, he was thrown out of a car onto a wet street.
A quiet sort with an easy smile, Fraley doesn't project the menacing mannerisms of an inside linebacker.
For one thing, he is undersized for the position. His weight varies from 208 to 220 pounds.
As a baby, his parents named him Chico, Spanish for "small."
However, the small Fraley has been a big-play performer for the Huskies.
Fraley is the second-leading tackler on the team and was named second-team All-Pacific 10.
He had a team-high eight tackles in a 31-0 rout of USC and and had 12 against Arizona in a 54-10 victory that clinched the Pac-10 championship and the Rose Bowl berth.
By beating the Trojans in the third game of the season, the Huskies emerged as the dominant team in the Pac-10.
Reflecting on that game, Fraley said: "The night before the game Coach (Don) James said that we were a good team, but that it didn't really matter what we had done the last two weeks (beating San Jose State and Purdue).
"He said, 'A lot of people don't think you're good enough to beat USC, but it takes great challenges to create a good team and this is a great challenge.'
"We came out with the mind set that we could win."
The Huskies scored 340 points in eight conference games, a league record, compared to 95 for the opposition.
Moreover, in their first six conference games, they outscored opponents, 72-7, in the first quarter.
It was a simple formula: The defense would stifle the opposition and the offense would score quickly.
Then they were upset by UCLA, 25-22, failing to score in the first quarter for the first time in the season.
"UCLA had an excellent game plan," Fraley said.
"They weren't scared of any mystique we might have. They came up with the big plays and we didn't. We lost some one-on-one battles we should have won and that was the difference."
Nonetheless, the Huskies, 9-2 overall, are in the Rose Bowl and are substantially favored to beat Iowa, the Big Ten representative.
"We practiced down here last year for the Freedom Bowl game (Washington won, 34-7)," Fraley said, "but it wasn't the same. There is so much more feeling to it now."
Moreover, he can do a little boasting if he meets two of his former high school teammates, Stephon Pace and Mazio Royster, who play for USC.
"Now I have the bragging rights," Fraley said with a smile.
Fraley was also a high school teammate of Eric Bieniemy, Colorado's accomplished running back, who was third in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
"Eric and I did the things that high school buddies do together," said Fraley, who took a recruiting trip to Colorado.
"I liked the trip, but I felt more comfortable at Washington. Jim Heacock (a former Husky assistant coach) talked and acted the same way with me while I was being recruited. He was up straight with me."
Fraley said that his father, Charles, who is now an X-ray technician in San Diego, visited him when he first enrolled at Washington.
"He walked around the campus and said, 'I can see why you chose the school.' "
The Huskies have one of the most intimidating defenses in the country. They lead the nation in rushing defense and turnover margin.
"We like to disguise our defenses," Fraley said.
"It's a guessing game and we've been good at it so far."
The Rose Bowl game will not only be a homecoming for Fraley, but 11 other Southern California area players who are on the first two offensive and defensive units. There are 26 Southern Californians on the Washington travel roster.
Fraley says that Iowa will be a formidable opponent despite the fact that Washington has been made a heavy favorite over the Hawkeyes.
"Iowa has an excellent team and has a big back in Nick Bell, who runs well," he said. "Their offensive line is big and strong and they have a smart quarterback in Matt Rodgers. He audibles a lot, has an accurate arm and is not afraid to run."
As for himself, Fraley is just thankful to be alive after his accident last year.
In an earlier interview with the Seattle Times, he said: "It opens you up a little bit, telling yourself you've got to live every day, day to day, because you could die at any minute. I'm still the same person, but it does open your eyes."