Bigger. Faster. Stronger.
That’s how freshman offensive lineman Zach Frazier described Division I opponents compared to what he faced last year in high school. Those three words could also be used to detail the difference in Frazier’s game since he played in the latter.
The Fairmont native made his first-career start as a Mountaineer in the season-opener. He’s only come out of the starting line up one time since.
“It was my goal coming in, but even in camp I didn’t know if it was going to happen,” Frazier said. “I got an opportunity and I went with it.”
That first starting opportunity came at center. He has been No. 1 in the rotation at left guard for the past five games. Frazier said he gets about 30-40 snaps in before every practice, ensuring that if his number is called at the position, he is ready.
Learning the technique is difficult enough at just one position when you are a true freshman. For Frazier, that isn’t the case.
“I learned center first. When you learn center, you pretty much know what everybody does, so switching to guard wasn’t that hard,” Frazier said.
Offensive line coach Matt Moore said Frazier’s ability to really understand football is what has allowed him to see success at multiple positions so early in his collegiate career.
“He loves football, he loves to study football,” Moore said. “He’s really mature.”
Frazier credits his father, Ray, for his in-depth understanding of the game.
“My dad has helped me a lot. He played college football at Fairmont State and he has always worked with me since I was in pee-wee football,” Frazier said. “He taught me the fundamentals and really everything I need to know.”
Frazier is one of five players on the WVU roster that is a product of Fairmont Senior High School. He credits facing off against two of them almost every day in practice, defensive linemen Darius and Dante Stills, for his increased confidence.
“You know, they’ve definitely got me their fair share and made me look bad a couple of times,” Frazier joked when asked about competing against the brothers. “I’ve got them a few times, very few times, but that gives me a little bit of confidence. We can compete together and wins reps against each other. I mean they win way more than I win, but it’s fun.”
Despite who wins the battle upfront in practice, Darius Stills says he knew from one of Frazier’s first snaps as a Mountaineer that he had serious potential.
“He pancaked one of the other opposing defensive linemen easily,” Stills said. “I knew from there on out he was going to be a great player here.”
But it was a few years before that impressive play that Stills knew how capable and advanced Frazier was for his age.
“I knew that my senior year of high school when he came in and started benching 315 just like it was nothing. I knew he would be special then,” Stills said. “He came up here and is producing, he is starting now so that kind of tells it for itself. Zach, he’s a great young man. Just him overall, he’s very advanced, very mature for his age and he is going to continue to grow and be a great player.”
Stills didn’t drop the details on how much Frazier is benching in 2020, but Coach Moore said he has unbelievable strength, which is something he attributes to Frazier’s talent in a different sport.
“His family has a deep background in wrestling. He is a four-year state champion at heavy weight. He just controls his body really well and can push himself to stay in shape,” Moore said.
Frazier and the rest of the WVU offensive line still have some improvements to make this season, but when it comes to his potential, Stills said the potential is untapped.
“Watch out for Zach,” Stills said. “He has a chance to go to the next level for sure. Just watch out for him.”