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A Salute to the 2017 Seniors: Joshua Frazier

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His patience led to becoming a valuable part of the defensive line rotation.

CFP National Championship
Nice
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I always have a soft spot for seniors who haven’t played a ton but stuck it out and remained in Tuscaloosa. Last year, it was Korren Kirven; this year, it’s Josh Frazier.

Frazier, a defensive lineman from Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas, was a 4 star, top 100 recruit in the Class of 2014. Like any good blue-chip recruit, Frazier had offers from numerous blue-blood programs and half the SEC. Despite the many offers, it was largely an Alabama/Arkansas race. Frazier spurned Bert and the Hogs and took his talents to T-Town.

Frazier would participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl along with fellow Alabama commit Shaun Dion Hamilton. He was part of a deep defensive line class with JUCO transfers Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway (who was returning to Bama) and freshmen Da’Shawn Hand, O.J. Smith, and Johnny Dwight.

Frazier arrived on campus in the summer, but he was low on the depth chart. Still, he impressed enough to earn playing time in six games that season; and he eventually notched his first tackle - a sack - against Western Carolina.

2015 was largely the same for Frazier, again serving in a back-up role. Stuck behind future NFL draft picks like A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, and his Class of 2014-mate Reed, his role was minimal. Frazier did show up on the stat sheet a few more times, recording four tackles, including two against Power 5 opponents.

Some players would have transferred. Frazier did not; he stuck it out, continuing to play the role he was asked to play.

That patience and perseverance was rewarded with a significantly expanded role, though still as a reserve. After playing in fewer than half the games in his first two seasons, Frazier saw action in all but one match-up (against Western Kentucky) as a junior in 2016.

He made a career-high two tackles against Ole Miss early in the season, but he made more of an impact in the latter half of the year. Frazier had a tackle in each game against Texas A&M, LSU, and Mississippi State before making a tackle in each postseason game. The eight tackles almost doubled his career total.

Frazier only had a minor role, but it was a still a role. More departures from the defensive line after 2016 finally opened up more opportunity, however.

Da’Ron Payne was the only returning starter for 2017; and while another Class of 2014 player, Da’Shawn Hand, and some newer players were expected to start over, Frazier would be needed in the two-deep. And he’s been a key part of the rotation from the opener.

In that opener against Florida State, Frazier was actually listed as a co-starter with Raekwon Davis, who had been shot days prior, at defensive end. He rotated in and out; but he had particularly excellent series early in the second quarter.

Playing at nose tackle here, Frazier attacks quickly and gets picked up by the right guard. He turns the guard to side and pushes towards Deondre Francois. The running back comes up to help for a beat before taking on Da’Shawn Hand. Frazier works to his right, all the while keeping his eyes on Francois. He sees the quarterback cock back; and he jumps up and gets his hand on the pass, forcing an incompletion.

Frazier does it again on the next play, quickly putting the Seminoles in a third and long.

If seeing the senior fired up after making those back-to-back plays doesn’t make you feel good, then we can’t be friends.

Frazier has continued to be a steady presence inside all season long. His 13 tackles won’t wow anybody, and neither will the 0 sacks. Still, he’s played a valuable role for the Tide this season; and he’ll be counted on to come off the bench against Clemson.

Every December, Alabama hands out its team awards, one of which is the Iron Man Award.

To the player(s) who have shown the most dedication to the individual and team goals of the Crimson Tide's year-round strength and conditioning program

Korren Kirven was one of the seniors who won it last year. This year, Joshua Frazier is one of the seniors who won it. He may never start a single game during his career with the Crimson Tide, but he’s worked hard to put himself in a position to help the team.

Hopefully that dedication and attitude win him some fans in NFL front offices.