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Frazier emerges as a vocal leader for WVU

MORGANTOWN — Zach Frazier sat before a gaggle of media members, taking questions.

The West Virginia University football team’s starting center is soft spoken, and his answers are brief. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder hears the questions, but a much more reserved version of Frazier responds.

That is only one side of Zach Frazier. The other, according to coaches, is the side that is the team’s vocal leader on the offensive line.

“As quiet and reserved as he is as a person,” co-offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said, “he has taken great steps in leading vocally when he feels like it’s fit.”

Frazier was quickly thrown to the wolves during his freshman season a year ago, starting at center in Week 1 after a handful of Mountaineers were suspended. He would go on to start at left guard in the majority of the team’s remaining games, assisting running back Leddie Brown finish second in the Big 12 conference in rushing.

Seeing as many snaps as Frazier did during his first college season was somewhat of a surprise, as, historically, the Mountaineers rarely gave freshmen offensive linemen starting reps. Still, he had been a stalwart of the offensive line at Fairmont Senior during his high school career, and ultimately was named one of the top players in the state in his recruiting class.

Yet, despite all his first-year experience, Frazier still needed some seasoning. One of those areas was in being vocal on the field.

Working through spring ball as the expected starter at center, it was a necessity for Frazier to show growth.

“As far as how far I’ve come from last year, I’m definitely a lot different (as a) person,” Frazier said. “Last year I wouldn’t say anything to anyone, so I’ve definitely grown in that area. I don’t think I’m all the way there yet, but I’ve definitely gotten better and I work on it every day.”

The other area was in playing the center position at a Division I level overall, something that, outside of the one game he started in, Frazier had very limited experience.

His work has shown, with head coach Neal Brown saying last week that Frazier was playing football at an all-conference level. He’s been a bright spot on an offensive line that has seen its share of struggles through the season’s first half.

The team’s problems haven’t been entirely up front as the team has, overall, had issues staying consistent from one game to the next. Running back Leddie Brown is having a down year after rushing for more than 1,000 yards a season ago, while the conference’s No. 1 defense in 2020 has also regressed.

The Mountaineers currently sit with a record of 2-4, limping into Saturday’s game at TCU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU) having lost three straight games. Of the six remaining games, the team will need to win at least four in order to become eligible for a bowl game.

“That’s definitely the motivation, to win as many games as we can,” Frazier said. “It’s urgent. We can’t mess around and lose many games.”

For such a turnaround, Parker thinks the Mountaineers have the right man at center.

“It’s very easy to lead when things are going well,” Parker said. “It is, now, a much harder challenge to lead when maybe it isn’t at (other) times. We’re going to have to be great at that, and I think Zach possesses the qualities it takes to do so.”

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