Fragel was a solid primary blocking tight end but really came into his own during his senior season when he moved to tackle. He beat out freshman Taylor Decker for the starting job shortly before the 2012 campaign began and only improved as the season progressed.
Fragel will likely be taken in the upcoming NFL draft after impressive showings at the league's combine and during Ohio State's Pro Day. But last spring, Fragel was still waiting for his breakout.
A year later, Meyer is looking for the next Fragel. And on Tuesday, he suggested that fifth-year senior safety Corey Brown could be that player.
"I'm hoping he's our Reid Fragel," Meyer said. "I'm hoping he's the guy that steps up."
Meyer, a well-known straight shooter, followed that comment describing Brown as a "nice kid with some talent" who has yet to accomplish much in his four years at Ohio State. Brown has arguably been as well known for the fact that he shares his name with wide receiver teammate Corey Brown than his on-field efforts. The defender, who is called Pittsburgh by some because his hometown of Gateway, Pa., is close to the Steel City, will enter his senior season this fall with 26 tackles – including 17 last season.
This spring, Brown has been the No. 3 safety and has been a go-to player when the Buckeyes show a dime package on defense. Ohio State has utilized that look, which features three linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs, on several occasions when the media has been permitted to watch practice.
Brown has done a little bit of everything, playing strong safety and playing some in the nickel and dime looks. His versatility has been a benefit according to OSU co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Everett Withers.
"I think he embraces the role," Withers said.
For his part, Brown is willing to do whatever the coaching staff asks.
"I'm just trying to find a role for the team, whatever I can do to help my team win," Brown said. "I go out there every day trying to compete, try to do my best for the team and find a spot."
Brown was brought up by Meyer on Tuesday because of his play in a short-yardage drill late in practice. On fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line, Brown stuffed tailback Bri'onte Dunn short of the goal line.
The hard hit capped a solid practice and a nice bounce back for Brown after a not-so-great performance during a scrimmage on Saturday.
"I usually text those guys after the scrimmage and tell them how they played," Withers said. "I told him, I said, ‘Hey man. You've got to play better.' I said, ‘I recruited real well at this position.' I'm real honest with them.
"I think he understands the urgency and he wants to be a valuable member of this football team. So if he just keeps going and works every day, I think he'll be fine."
Brown took the criticism as Withers intended it.
"It's just motivation," Brown said. "I know I have to come out here and work every day extremely hard. I'm going to try to do everything I can possible."
Hard work will obviously help Brown, but Withers also wants to hear more from Brown. Literally.
"I want him to be a little bit more vocal, a little bit more outgoing," Withers said. "It's not necessarily in his nature, but I think he has to be for him to be a valuable part of this defense. I think he's got to step out of his comfort zone a little bit, and that's what we're trying to push him to do."
Brown admitted struggling with Withers request but senior starting safety C.J. Barnett said he knows Brown is trying.
"He's out there on the field, being loud and trying to get hype with the guys," Barnett said. "He's trying to pick guys up. He's making a conscious effort with that."
Despite being a Pennsylvania product, Brown was always a big Buckeye fan and wanted to play at Ohio State. Now he wants to finish his Ohio State career with a flourish. His teammates and coaches believe he can.
"I always thought Corey Brown was able to play a lot of positions," Barnett said. "That's great having a guy like that who can play safety. He can play in the nickel and the dime. He's very versatile and he's got a lot of talent."