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2024 NFL Draft

Dramatic Injury, Recovery Prove Zach Frazier Is the Real Deal

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Pittsburgh Steelers C Zach Frazier
Zach Frazier, West Virginia Athletics

PITTSBURGH — Zach Frazier did not go out as a champion college football player.

The West Virginia center, drafted in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, was on the sidelines when his Mountaineers won the Duke’s Mayo Bowl to complete a 9-4 season in December.

Not that the Duke’s Mayo Bowl is necessarily a champion-crowner. But the way Frazier’s season ended — a month before his teammates’ — certainly showed his championship-caliber character.

In WVU’s regular season finale at Baylor, the Mountaineers were trailing, 31-27, and out of timeouts with the clock ticking under a minute remaining. Quarterback Garrett Greene threw a pass over the middle to underneath receiver Hudson Clement. 

Frazier, always a ball of energy, ran down the field to block for Clement, and ended up right behind the receiver, pushing him and carrying him forward. When the Baylor defenders dove for Clement, they took out Frazier, with a defensive tackle landing with his full body weight on Frazier’s leg, instantly breaking it.

The Mountaineers were out of timeouts. If the officials had to stop the clock for an injury timeout, it would have resulted in a 10-second runoff. Not putting any weight on his broken leg, Frazier scampered off the field on his hands on one good leg, hopping the final 20 yards ton the WVU sideline.

Just one additional second had ticked off the clock. Greene completed another pass to Clement then ran twice for a first down before throwing a touchdown pass to Jaheim White in the end zone to put the Mountaineers ahead for good for good with only 23 second left.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Frazier said at the 2024 NFL Combine. “I was in a lot of pain. And I knew it wasn’t just a sprained ankle.”

The injury impacted Frazier’s entire pre-draft process. He was not able to participate in the Senior Bowl or the 2024 NFL Combine. He rushed through the recovery to be able to participate in the Big 12 pro day in Frisco, Texas. 

Pittsburgh Steelers C Zach Frazier

Zach Frazier, West Virginia Athletics

But what he showed about the kind of football player and person he is that night in Waco? That did far more to help his stock than this lack of availability might’ve hurt it.

“A lot of the teams were impressed with it,” Frazier said. “In the moment, I was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team out. A lot of people tell me that I won the game. I don’t really feel that way because our center came in, had perfect snaps, made perfect calls. I feel like, I maybe gave them a chance to win, but those guys that came in and executed on the last four plays, they did a great job.”

Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said that when you get to know Frazier, you realize that act against Baylor wasn’t a one-off.

“That’s who he is,” Smith said. “That’s his resume. He wasn’t trying to just do some dramatic shot for the camera. That’s his history and his body of work. He’s one of the tougher guys I’ve seen on film.”

The Steelers are obviously comfortable with Frazier’s health, given that they drafted him with the No. 51 overall pick. And they’re downright excited about the personal toughness and character of their newest offensive lineman.