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Pitt

Former Pitt, Penn Hills star Bill Fralic dies at age 56

| Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, 11:51 a.m.
Former Pitt offensive tackles Bill Fralic and Jimbo Covert embrace during a new conference Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Former Pitt offensive tackles Bill Fralic and Jimbo Covert embrace during a new conference Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Heinz Field.

Former Penn Hills and Pitt standout Bill Fralic has died.

Pitt announced the death Friday morning. The university said Fralic died following a battle with cancer.

He was 56.

Fralic was a three-time first team All-American, including unanimous status as a junior and senior. Fralic became the first offensive lineman to twice finish in the top 10 of the Heisman Trophy balloting, placing sixth in 1984 and eighth in 1983.

"Bill Fralic was not only an all-time player at the University of Pittsburgh, but also an all-time human being," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. "His generosity, support and concern for others was unmatched. For as hulking a figure as he was, Billy was even larger in his kindness and passion for others. He leaves a wonderful legacy that goes well beyond football at Pitt, Penn Hills and all of Western Pennsylvania. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife, Susan, and all of his loved ones."

Fralic's collegiate career led to the phrase "Pancake Block" being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used "Pancakes" as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

Fralic's No. 79 jersey was retired by Pitt at halftime of his final home game in 1984, a 21-10 win over Tulane. He would go on to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

"Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics," Director of Athletics Heather Lyke said. "He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill's reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends."

A Western Pennsylvania native, Fralic became the first sophomore to letter in football at Penn Hills High School. He also became a WPIAL heavyweight wrestling champion for the Indians, compiling a 98-7 record on the mat.

Fralic was a member of the inaugural class of the WPIAL Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also a member of the inaugural Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame class that was enshrined this past September.

Memorial arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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