It’s been years since West Virginia offensive lineman Zach Frazier has competed on the mat. But the traits and skills he developed as a wrestler have helped turn him into a college standout. And in less than three weeks, an NFL draft pick.

Though the clip is a month old, it’s worth sharing what Frazier told top offensive line analyst Brandon Thorn about how his wrestling background translates to the football field. 

“I would say just the ability to use my hands and hand fight,” Frazier told Thorn. “And also understanding leverage. Understanding where the defensive line’s weight is. Knowing how i can use leverage to shift my weight to move him. It’s kinda hard to explain but being able to torque people…it’s helped me out a lot.”

Frazier wasn’t just another wrestler. He was elite, perhaps even better on the mat than he was on the gridiron. A high bar but the resume to back it up. Throughout his four years at Fairmont Senior, he went a ridiculous 159-2, a four-time heavyweight champion. As a junior, 34 of his 38 matches ended with his opponent being pinned in the first round. The average match length? 51 seconds. He wrestled in high school, in part, so it would help him become a better football player.

Even one of those two rare losses only came on technicality, called for an illegal move in a match he was dominating 8-0. The other came 1-0 as a freshman. Here’s just one example of him dominating in the 285-pound class. He exited high school as one of the greatest wrestlers in West Virginia history, staying local and committing to the Mountaineers’ football program.

He turned a great wrestling career into a solid football one, starting 47 games for West Virginia. The anchor of the offense, he exits school as one of the top centers in the draft, using that wrestling background to win up front.

“Sometimes I feel they’re off-balanced one way or the other. I just kinda now how to get movement based on that.”

As much as size, length, and athleticism matter, the key to winning up front is hand use. Sustaining blocks the offense, defeating blocks for the defense. Technique separates the athletes and “toolsy” players from the ones who succeed with long-lasting careers.

Of course, little of this is “new” news. And Frazier is hardly the first lineman to have a wrestling background. Heck, Kendrick Green wrestled in high school and that didn’t do him much good at the NFL level. Bu there’s a skillset that translates so long as you have the size and refinement to play on the football field, something Frazier clearly has. And should he become a Steeler, it’ll be fun watching his wrestling skills play out in Pittsburgh.

Check out the whole clip of Thorn and Frazier, highlighting several examples of his hand use winning blocks on Saturdays. A principle that should carry over to Sundays.


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