It is a big year for defensive tackle in the state of Arkansas, and it does not get much bigger than Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber defender Josh Frazier.
The 6-4, 320-pound prospect immidiately catches attention in the middle of the Wildcat defense, but in order to be one of the best, Frazier knows he has to bring more than his size to the table.
As a sophomore in 2011, he began to come into his own, and put some of the lessons he has learned to use on the field. He began to come off the ball lower and use his hands better. As a result, his play improved and his confidence increased. Then in one game Frazier put it all together.
"I felt my last couple of games as a sophomore I really started to incorporate everything coach has taught me and it's worked," Frazier said. "It showed when we played Bentonville. I had an outstanding game. That was probably the best game I've ever played when we played Bentonville last year.
"The offensive line for Bentonville last year only allowed one sack before me and we played them in week 10 and I got the second sack of the year on them. They were really good last year and went to the state championship and played Fayetteville."
This summer at the Alabama camp Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban taught him another valuable lesson, one that remains firmly imprinted in his mind.
"I really feel like coach Saban helped me in a couple of spots" Frazier said. "When we were doing one-on-ones I got beat once and coach Saban came to me. He taught me when an offensive lineman opens up I want to counter and the next time I went I incorporated what he said. He just taught me something new out there and I'm really thankful they did that."
Frazier also made an impression on coach Saban, who let him know he noticed the defensive tackle's ability to listen, learn, and adapt.
The Crimson Tide extended an offer following the camp performance, joining Arkansas and Arkansas State on his offer list, and all three coaching staffs have left a favorable impression on him.
Since the Razorbacks are right up the road, Frazier has only had a chance visit Arkansas this fall.
"I can pretty much drive 50 miles down the road and I'm at the stadium," Frazier said. They've invited me to come watch practice and meet some of the players and watch the coaches. They're really nice and I've kind of taken a liking to them. I've gotten comfortable going over there now. I used to be kind of scared because I didn't know what the recruiting process was like. They're really genuine guys and you don't see that out of a lot of coaches."
However, this summer he was able to visit Arkansas State.
"When we were going to Alabama we stopped and had lunch at Arkansas State because coach Wood was mentored by coach (Gus) Malzahn," Frazier said. "So we went and toured the complex and met the coaches. I talked to coach Malzahn and he wanted me to come down and visit."
Recently another program has begun to make their presence felt.
"I actually talked to the Texas A&M coach," Frazier said. "He wanted me to come down for a game and see the atmosphere. So I think Texas A&M is probably going to offer."
At this moment, Frazier does not have a visit scheduled but is intrigued by A&M's interest.
Attention continues to pour in from across the country, but when it comes to leaders there are a few programs who have caught his attention early in the process.
I'm looking at Alabama right now. That's probably the peak of my choice," Frazier said. "And Arkansas, I really think Arkansas has a lot of good recruits coming out of Arkansas. Just from my standpoint in seeing the players in Arkansas and the level and the intensity that I see in the 2013 and 2014 classes. There are so many athletes who I think are going to make Arkansas good in these next couple of years - Austin Allen, (Alex) Brignoni, and Brooks Ellis are some of my friends who go to Fayetteville and they're really good athletes. Then at Pine Bluff there's Will Gragg, Chris Gragg's little brother. I think he's going to make the all-sophomore all-American team. There's just a bunch of good people. Hunter Henry, he's committed to Arkansas. There's so many good players that I think are going to make this Arkansas team a force for the next couple of years. I'll have to take that into consideration too."
Alabama and Arkansas are not the only schools to capture his attention though with USC, LSU, and Texas A&M also among his top schools.
As a junior in 2012, Frazier has showed just why he is deserving of the attention. Har-Ber is 7-4 on the season, and as they enter the second round of the playoffs Frazier believes they are just hitting their stride.
"I think the peak of our season was last week when we played a good Little Rock Central team," Frazier said. "We beat them 42-7 and our defense was outstanding and our offense was playing good. Now we're headed to the second round against (Fort Smith) Southside and that was our third game we played. We beat them 10-7 in non-conference play so I feel like our season is going well right now."
Frazier also feels good about his own performance despite seeing more double teams and chop blocks.
"I feel like this year when we started the season I was playing so much better," Frazier said. "I was coming off the ball and playing more aggressive and using my hands really well this year. It shows in my stats. I don't have as many tackles this year as I did last year but I think I'm having a really stout season. I have 4 sacks, 57 tackles, and 1 caused fumble. I think I'm doing really well."
Frazier is currently ranked a 5.9, 4-star prospect and was recently named to the 2014 Rivals250 to Watch List.