Football, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Zach Frazier’s final college play encapsulated everything that makes him great

Zach Frazier is going to be remembered as one of the best home-grown players to ever wear a West Virginia jersey.

The soft-spoken, humble young man from Fairmont developed into one of the premiere college football players in the country over his four-year career in Morgantown. He will almost certainly garner all-conference and All-American honors in the coming weeks and seems primed to be a first-round pick in the next NFL draft.

Frazier played a lot of football for the Mountaineers since he stepped on campus in 2019. Throughout all 46 of his career starts, there is one play in particular that you can point to and say “This is the kind of player Zach Frazier was and this is what he meant to WVU.”

You probably already know the play I’m talking about. It will end up being the final play of his college career when Frazier carried receiver Hudson Clement to a first down to begin the team’s game-winning drive against Baylor on Saturday.

On that one play, Frazier showed every aspect of why he will be remembered as one of the best to ever play for the Mountaineers.

“I think that one play really sums up who he is as a player and what he has meant to the program,” WVU coach Neal Brown said on MetroNews Talkline Tuesday morning. 

The things that make Frazier the player he is are his toughness, his intelligence, his ability to do the little things right and his willingness to do anything for his team to win.

As he carried Clement past the first down marker, which stopped the clock and saved the team precious seconds as time was winding down, Frazier came up limp. He knew if he stayed down WVU would be assessed an injury timeout and there would be a 10-second runoff so he carried himself, essentially on one leg, to the sideline before collapsing on the ground.

“He gets injured after really carrying Hudson Clement for a first down,” Brown said. “He is in a lot of pain and he hops off the field so we don’t get a ten-second runoff. He’s an unbelievably tough individual and highly intelligent.”

The entire play saved the Mountaineers around 20 seconds as they embarked on a game-winning two-minute drill. Had Frazier not helped Clement get a first down or not limped to the sideline, it’s entirely possible WVU would not have had enough time to score the go-ahead touchdown.

“The normal person doesn’t really realize that, but that’s the type of kid he is,” quarterback Garrett Greene said after the game. “He’s as selfless as they come, 10 seconds could have been the difference. I love him and I would do anything for him.”

Brown said right away that Frazier will not play in WVU’s bowl game. Frazier announced on social media Tuesday afternoon that he had surgery on Monday, ending his college career.

“I can’t say enough about Zach Frazier, so appreciative of him and his family,” Brown said after the game. “I think one play sums up who he is for his entire career. I just hope our fanbase understands that a young man from Fairmont, I think, is the best center in college football.”

The other aspect of Frazier’s WVU career is how beloved he is. I doubt there’s a single person who calls themself a WVU fan that has a single bad word to say about him. There’s certainly no one inside the program who has anything bad to say either.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Zach Frazier,” Greene said. “He’s one of my best friends up here. To see that happen to a guy like that, he does everything right, it just breaks my heart and I’m probably not going to enjoy this win as much as I should just because of how much he means to me and how much he means to this program and entire state.”

“Kind of bittersweet really,” Brown said. “We win the game but he gets hurt at the end so my level of excitement is subdued because of that.”

Whatever the future holds for Frazier, he can be secure in the fact that his West Virginia legacy is secured. He is one of the best to ever don the Old Gold and Blue and it seems certain that he will be remembered as such.

“I plan on doing this for a long time and I don’t know if I’ll ever coach a center that’s better,” Brown said. “I’ve had some good players, but I’ve never coached one that’s better.”