Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU confident in Yates at center with Frazier out

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time since he stepped on campus, Zach Frazier will not be playing for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Frazier, a Fairmont native, will miss a game with an injury for the first time in his career, sitting out of today’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl against North Carolina, N.C. (5:30 p.m./ESPN). Frazier suffered a leg injury in the team’s regular-season finale at Baylor which required surgery.

A day-one starter as a true freshman, Frazier has started 46 games in his WVU, including 37 straight at center.

“It’s kind of sucked, for lack of a better term,” quarterback Garrett Greene said of not having Frazier this week. “He is one of my best friends and I miss him out there. He’s been around the building, he’s been to every practice, he’s been talking to me and I know we’ll continue to do that into the game Wednesday night.”

Even though Frazier won’t be on the field playing, Greene believes he will still be able to impact the game.

“You see the game differently when you’re off the field than when you’re on the field,” he said. “After every drive, I’ll probably come over and talk to him about what the front’s doing and all of that. He sees the game really, really well, which I think is special.”

Redshirt junior Brandon Yates will start at center in Frazier’s place. Yates has started all 12 games this season at either right or left guard and has also played in over 40 games in his career.

“We have a lot of trust in Bradon,” head coach Neal Brown said. “He’s made tremendous growth, he’s really played at a high level.”

With Frazier entering the NFL draft, Yates is expected to be WVU’s full-time starting center in 2024. Brown said the preparation for this bowl game has given him a head start on next season.

“From an identification standpoint and getting us on the right people, I have a lot of faith in him,” Brown said. “We’re going to treat it the same. The same run plays we ran when Zach was in are going to be the same run plays we run with Brandon there. The same way we protected with Zach, the same way we’ll protect with Brandon.”

Frazier was named first-team All-Big 12 this season with several All-American accolades. 

“Will we miss Zach? Yeah,” Brown admitted. “You don’t take that kind of player off your team and say ‘We’re just going to continue to roll.’ But I do think the one positive on it, it’s really given us a month head start on the ‘24 season with that o-line.”

“He stepped in during a really, really big moment in the Baylor game,” Greene noted, “So I have all the confidence in the world that he’s going to call a great game, the snaps are going to be good and it’ll be smooth sailing.”