Fraser takes leadership role

He's been starting since he was a freshman and is a key in the middle of the Wildcats' offensive line. All too often he gets overshadowed by other players. Newcomers and newer starters get the bulk of the attention. For Keoki Fraser that's okay, as long as he's the leader of his own linemen.

Keoki Fraser has been a contributor since his redshirt freshman year. He has played guard and center, but has made his mark snapping the ball. He will be the starter this year, even as the Cats tinker with their blocking scheme under new line coach Mike Deal.

"We have a new coach and he's added some new things," Fraser said. "We took that and added it to what our old coach, Coach Dickey, taught us. It makes us better players. It gives us a better understanding of the game, more knowledge of the game. The more you know the better."

One change in the scheme is the addition of more zone blocking. When John Mackovic took over the bulk of the offensive linemen were on the small side, so the team used a lot of movement. To take advantage of their quickness the Cats used a lot of traps, pulls and counters. With the presence of greater size on the team, some of the scheme blocking has been replaced with straight ahead zone blocking. Zone blocking simplifies things, but puts a greater emphasis on strength and getting off the snap to hit the man in front of you.

"It's not necessarily harder or easier, it's just something the coaches like us to do," Fraser said. "We're a little more agile and we'll be able to get out on the edge against people. It's something we want to take advantage of."

Not only are they having to adjust to new coaches and techniques, but there is the challenge of new quarterbacks as well. The line had two years with Jason Johnson, and they pretty much knew where he was going to be and what he could do. Now they have two young guys to adjust to, and both like to move around and out of the pocket much more than Johnson did.

"It is a little different since they are new," Fraser said. "Since (the quarterback) is new, we have to make sure we give him good protection. One thing that will help him out is the running game. We are really focusing on getting our running game going this year to help them out."

Fraser had a solid spring camp and is pleased with where his game is. Despite playing well, he has not rested this summer.

"I felt I did good, but I always feel I can do better," Fraser confessed. "I've been watching a lot of film to see little things I can do better. Not necessarily the big things, but just little adjustments I can make. Just more of the little things I can do to be better."

Fraser takes pride in being a veteran leader. He feels the role comes naturally to him, not just due to his personality but his position as well.

"Being a center you are involved in making the right calls and directing the line, so it is naturally going to be a leadership role. I've been playing for a few years, so it's definitely my job to be a leader, to get everyone together and set an example for the younger guys."

One good thing about Fraser is that he is versatile. Although he has seen the bulk of his time at center, he can also play guard. He, Reggie Sampay, Kili Lefotu and even newcomer Tom Robinson give the Cats a lot of flexibility on the inside of the line. All three can snap the ball, but can also play guard.

He's been working hard this summer staying in shape and making sure his fellow linemen are working together. Exercise and bonding have been key.

"I've been hitting the weights, getting out running and really watching my diet," said Fraser. "I eat right, stay healthy and really try to come together as a unit. The o-line, we've been having BBQs and stuff like that. Hanging out as an offensive line is what it's all about."

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