Frazier's Journey Ends In Key Role

From transfer walk-on to starting the Big Ten Championship Game, Rashad Frazier has bucked the odds, and his journey from Maine to Ohio State was capped Saturday when he played a key role in OSU's win vs. the Badgers.

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When it came to stopping Wisconsin in Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State’s starting lineup had a number of five-star prospects, excitable young stars and dependable veterans.

And one former walk-on.

Senior Rashad Frazier, who walked on to the OSU team in 2012 after a short stint at Purdue, was given the starting nod in place of senior Steve Miller in order to give the Buckeyes more size against the massive Wisconsin front. The 6-2, 272-pounder has split time with Miller at end this year – when he hasn’t been battling an ankle sprain – and had posted 11 tackles and a sack.

"Wisconsin is big on the run game so there was the thought of getting a bigger body in there,” Frazier said. “We went with a heavy package, so that's why I was in there and it worked out pretty well."

Did it ever. Not only did Ohio State hold Wisconsin, the nation’s No. 2 rushing team, to 71 yards as a team and Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon to his second lowest total of the season, the Buckeyes ran away with a 59-0 throttling of Wisconsin that left the College Football Playoff committee little reason to leave the Buckeyes out of the No. 4 spot.

Frazier chipped in by helping set the edge so the OSU linebackers, corners and safeties could make plays, and he also made a sack of Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave the play before a fumble by Gordon led to a TD return by Joey Bosa that was the final stake in Wisconsin’s efforts to make the game competitive.

After the game, reflecting in the joyous locker room, Frazier credited his performance – as did his fellow linemen – to the memory of late line mate Kosta Karageorge.

“So many emotions go through your body,” he said. “I'd like to think that my late friend Kosta, I think he had a big part in what I was able to accomplish tonight and what the D-line was able to accomplish tonight. Holding Melvin Gordon to so few yards, it was unreal. I really think Kosta had a lot to do with that."

The performance was a fitting end to a fruitful career for Frazier, whose road has been a long and winding one. He attended high school in Maine before transferring back to Middletown, Ohio, where he started playing football late in his career.

In his first year of football as a senior after playing other sports as a younger, he had 55 tackles and 5½ sacks for the Middies, which earned him first-team honors in the region, city and conference. Scout listed him the fifth-ranked defensive end in Ohio when he finished his career, and he chose to attend Purdue.

But after a redshirt season and a year on the bench, he chose to transfer back to Ohio State, where he entered the program the same year as Urban Meyer in 2012.

“I always wanted to be a Buckeye, so I went one year at Purdue and I decided to transfer, and Coach Meyer, that was his first year,” Frazier said. “He allowed me to walk on and I eventually got a scholarship and it just took off from there."

After a year taken off to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he earned a scholarship thanks to his skills and work ethic and looked ready to contribute in 2013 according to then-line coach Mike Vrabel, but a campaign filled with injuries limited him to a single game on the campaign.

This year, though, he’s been a contributor, and he said he couldn’t have planned the ending when he began his journey.

“I've come a long way,” he said after the title game. “It's an absolute blessing to be in the position that I'm in. I'm just out playing with these great guys. I couldn't be more happy for this team and what we've accomplished tonight.

“It's just a dream come true. Man, I'm just at a loss for words and what we just accomplished today."


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