FRAZIER LOOKS TO PROVE HIMSELF NFL-worthy

Scorned by the traditional high-profile route to the NFL, former University of Cincinnati defensive end Andre Frazier will look to blaze his own trail to NFL stardom.

Andre Frazier, who went undrafted during the two-day, seven round event held last month, signed on as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Frazier admittedly owes much of his opportunity to make it at the pro ranks to the coaching he received while competing for the Bearcats every Saturday for the past four seasons.

"I thank the coaching staff a lot for all that they have done. They gave me an opportunity to play and taught me a lot about the game of football during my time at UC," said a grateful Frazier.

However, Frazier, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, knows the schooling he received on the campus at Clifton will not be enough to earn a spot for him on an NFL roster alone.

"The NFL game is already a lot more difficult than college ball. In college you could get by on talent and playing a good system," said Frazier. "While I knew the players would be bigger and faster, the playbook is also a lot more complicated. I've just got to learn the plays and I think the game will become a lot easier to grasp."

One thing Frazier already seems to understand is that he has to take advantage of every opportunity he is presented with during his rookie campaign. Knowing that big money and high expectations are not there to help give him an extra push into the league some early-round draft picks might receive, Frazier seems unfazed by the lack of respect NFL general managers have shown him.

"It is great that there are guys out there that have been drafted in the later rounds, or not at all, and have still found a way to be successful in the [NFL]. It shows that guys in my position can come into the NFL and make an impact on their team and in the league" said Frazier in regard to seeing Tom Brady and other low draft picks thrive in the league. "However, I want to make my own path into the league. I am not those guys; I have to do it my own way and make it on my own."

Hopefully, for Frazier, his desire will help aid his attempt to make-it in the NFL, as he attempts to buck the traditional system and beat countless proven veterans and players drafted by the Steelers to make the team's regular season roster.

"You have to go to each camp session and every practice not thinking about the draft or how much money someone signed for. The draft was in the past," said Frazier. "I have to go in there and work harder than every first-round pick and every millionaire and give them a reason to keep me around. All you can do is give your best and hope they see something in you when they are watching."

Frazier, a third team All-American selection (Football News) during his senior campaign, also knows that it may not be stellar on defense that earns him a spot on the team. It may be his ability to adapt to playing special teams that keeps him in the league.

"I just have to want to make the team and that means doing whatever it takes to stay here. Whether it is on defense or special teams, I just want to help my team win," said a humbled Frazier, who finished second in tackles for loss (48) and third in sacks (18.5) in Bearcat history.

Despite the obvious optimism he appears to exude to the cynical on-looking eyes of the media, Frazier faces the added disadvantage of having to adapt to an entirely new position now that he has made it to the professional ranks.

Having played defensive end for as long as he can remember, Frazier will have to relearn everything he has been taught during his four years at the University of Cincinnati and learn to play the outside linebacker position.

"I am a bit undersized (6-5 240), so they want to utilize my athletic ability by moving me from the end position to outside linebacker. There is definitely a motivational aspect to it. Even though I haven't played this position, I am willing to put in the work and learn my plays," said Frazier.

Frazier's first efforts at the position seemed to go well, at least from his point of view. "Mini-camp is all about learning, knowing the plays and getting comfortable with my teammates. As soon as I feel comfortable with the plays and the guys on the field, I think I will just be able to go out there and play football. You do not have to be scared to make a mistake."

Despite the initial learning curve the Steelers may afford Frazier, in the long-run talent and a good attitude alone will not win him a spot on a squad that finished with a 15-1 record during last season's regular season. It will ultimately come down to how well his talent, his desire and his knowledge of the of game of football translate to the professional gridiron.

"I know you have to go out there day-after-day. You have to take it one day at a time and just play football," said Frazier through a series of cliché responses. "It is going to come down to whether or not they think I can play football for them and make a difference."

In the end, however, the realization for Frazier and numerous other undrafted players will be that they will not be a member of the team they originally signed with come the end of the preseason: "I mean, I am a Steeler right now and until otherwise notified I plan on being a member of this team."

Though it is yet to be determined whether Frazier will dawn the intimidating facemask worn by the defensive madmen of the Steel Curtain defense, or whether he will look to pursue other avenues of success in the NFL (or whatever walk of life), the positive attitude he's been able to maintain during the early chaos of his rookie season breeds confidence that this man will find success no matter where he goes.


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