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UNM alumnus Solomon a key defender for U.S. flag football team

Frankie Solomon, a former UNM football player, was on the 2018 U.S. Mens Flag National Team. He helped the team win the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag Football World Championships that took place in Panama. (USA Football)

At age 33, well after football at the University of New Mexico and after a standout career in arena football, Frankie Solomon somehow remains in the game.

It’s flag football, and just like any other sport he has competed in, Solomon is taking it to the highest level he can.

Solomon, who played as a defensive back for the Lobos from 2006 to 2009, was recently selected to play for the 2021 U.S. Men’s Flag Football National Team by USA Football. The team is scheduled to compete at the International Federation of American Football Flag World Championships in Palma, Spain in October.

“I just love football,” said Solomon, who lives in Dallas. “That’s what I was destined to do. When I went through arena football, I had two shoulder surgeries, foot surgery, a finger injury, multiple stuff. That’s the price you pay to play football. I love it to death.”

Frankie Solomon played as a defensive back for the University of New Mexico from 2006 to 2009. (UNM Athletics)

UNM coach Danny Gonzales, who was Solomon’s position coach during his time with the Lobos, noticed Solomon’s high level of athleticism early on. It was seen prior to Solomon’s first preseason camp, while he was playing ultimate frisbee with his teammates after weight training sessions.

“The older guys couldn’t touch him,” Gonzales said. “He was so athletic and quick. When we got into fall camp, because of the ultimate frisbee stuff, we gave him a good look early and he just kept making plays and making plays.”

Solomon eventually played as the wolf safety in then-head coach Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense.

Prior to UNM, Solomon admits he came in under the radar and hardly recruited.

He suffered a setback during his senior year at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. He sustained a hard hit late in his senior season. The hit caused internal bleeding and left him slouched over in pain for a few months after the hit.

Still, he bounced back strong enough in time to become a contributor on defense as a true freshman at UNM.

“I was really hard on him his first two years just because as a true freshman he had to earn his way,” Gonzales said. “He was a really good player. He took everything I gave him and never complained. I think the world of him and I’m really happy for him. He’s still playing at age 33. I think it’s really great.”

Solomon dabbled with flag football after finishing up at UNM. He found his niche in arena football after coming up short in attempts to make the NFL or the Canadian Football League.

Solomon, at 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, didn’t have the speed to play in the NFL or CFL, he said, but instead made the most of his game in arena ball.

He played nine years of arena football. He was known as “The Franchise” for the Texas Revolution in 2013 when he became their first player in franchise history in the Champions Indoor Football league. Prior to that, he played for the Allen Wranglers before they folded.

He played his final year for the Salina Liberty from Kansas. He would drive to Kansas each week with his youngest son of six children, Titan.

Solomon helped the Liberty reach the championship game, losing to the Duke City Gladiators.

He played for the 2018 USA Flag Football Team, though he wasn’t originally selected. He competed with the team after one of his friends and a former teammate, Jerell Norton, could not make the trip to Panama.

Solomon was happy to fill in. He helped Team USA win its third straight title and was named Defensive MVP of the tournament.

He continues to train and play flag football in Dallas. He works with his younger brother, Quintell, who also played football at UNM (2008-2012). They started ventures dealing with housing and cars, Solomon said.

Solomon is expecting to travel to Denmark with the U.S. team in May to play in a few events, he said.

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