Oct. 12, 2007
It took a little while for "The Tank" to get going, but as the UNLV football season crosses the midway point, junior running back Frank Summers has reached full speed, is plowing through opposing defenses and not showing any signs of slowing.
In his last three games Summers has rushed for at least 100 yards in all of them, motoring for 410 yards and four touchdowns during that stretch, including a punishing 190 yards and two scores that left the Utah Utes battered and bruised. For the year, the native of Oakland, Calif., has 518 yards and six touchdowns and is currently fourth in the Mountain West Conference and 47th in the country in rushing yards per game with 86.3. Summers has settled in nicely at the Division-I level after a slow start that saw him amass just 108 yards over the first three games of the year. He has also made six receptions out of the backfield, two of which have gone for scores, giving the big back seven total touchdowns on the year.
It is obvious, however, that the ground is where Frank "The Tank" is at his best, and the more carries he gets, the better he is. During his sensational stretch, he has carried the rock an average of 26 times a game, including a career-high 29 carries in his dismantling of the Utes. Against in-state rival Nevada, Reno he carried the ball 24 times for 120 yards and then picked up 100 more on 25 carries at Air Force, clearly showing he does not mind doing the heavy lifting.
"You get into a grove and you see how defenses are playing," Summers explains. "I am able to set up moves or dip my head and run through people. With me, the more carries I get, the better I get."
Running over defenders is something that the 240-pound wrecking ball from Laney College does with regularity and an obvious reason for Summers' nickname.
Football, however, has nothing to do with "The Tank" moniker being hung on Summers.
The first child of Talia Summers, Frank was always a big kid and his mother started calling him "Tank Tank." The name stuck with family and friends and would become more than fitting.
"I was pretty much born with the nickname. Once I started playing football it kind of stuck with me. Everyone started calling me Frank `The Tank,'" Summers says. "I just run hard at all times and if there is someone in my way I either try to run through them or make a move and get around them. I am trying to score a touchdown with each carry."
Summers is becoming an increasingly frequent visitor to the end zone and Rebel fans may notice him rubbing his fingers together in celebration following every score. The move is done to symbolize reaching pay dirt, and it is something he's been displaying since the ninth grade, when his high school coach told him that every touchdown was money in the bank. In high school Summers would grab a little bit of grass and let it blow in the wind, but with the turf field of Sam Boyd Stadium and most opponent venues, he just rubs his fingers together to get the same meaning.
"That is the way I think of it now, every touchdown is pay dirt," Summers says. "At the end of the day if you have more pay dirt, you win that game."
Making sure that the Rebels have more pay dirt at the end of games is something that Summers was recruited to do at UNLV as the program continues its turnaround and starts competing for bowl game appearances. A near-perfect finish is a must for UNLV if in fact a possible bowl bid is in the team's future, but after playing toe-to-toe with their opponents in almost every game this season, Summers believes the Rebels are more than capable of doing just that.
"When we play our game with no mental errors, we can play with any team in the country. But we have to execute and play at the high level like we know how," he says. "The bottom line is everyone on the team wants to go to a bowl game and you can't do that if you don't win."