When Brett Rypien heaps praise upon a Boise State defensive player, it is probably wise to pay attention.
Last summer, the quarterback called Leighton Vander Esch the best player on the team despite the linebacker never having been a full-time starter. Vander Esch went on to win Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors and was a first-round NFL Draft pick in April.
During spring practices, Rypien pointed out one guy in particular — senior STUD end Jabril Frazier — as someone who had impressed him.
“Jabril’s on a whole other level. He’s taken his game to new heights,” Rypien said. “I don’t know what it is, but something’s clicked for him. He’s out there dominating. It’s really cool to see … when he’s healthy, he’s looking really scary right now.”
Frazier’s junior year started to show the considerable potential of the 6-foot-4, 236-pounder. He had six sacks last season, with two forced fumbles, finally healthy after he had three surgeries in one day on his shoulder, knee and ankle following the 2016 campaign.
“I feel I did an OK job, made a couple plays, but I feel like I haven’t really reached my potential yet,” Frazier said. “Going into spring, I watched a lot of film, had a whole offseason, a full summer to get ready, I’m excited to see what I can do now.”
That sentiment is echoed by the rest of his teammates.
“To finally see him starting to come into form ... (he’s) so explosive off the ball,” Rypien said.
Frazier had two third-down sacks in the spring game April 14, and said he’s as strong as he’s ever been while at Boise State. He power-cleaned 345 pounds twice in the weight room.
“I went out there with a different mindset. I know it’s my senior year, I still have things to prove,” Frazier said.
A strong senior season would not only benefit the Boise State defense, but Frazier could further put himself on the NFL radar. He’s got the build and athleticism, plus has been an efficient tackler and pass rusher. He has a goal of being more of an all-down defender this season, being more of a presence against the run.
“It’s definitely something I care about ... I’ve been putting in a bunch of work, I’ve had my ups and downs since I’ve been in college. I’m excited for my senior year, to see where that might take me,” said Frazier, who was ineligible his freshman year for academic reasons.
There’s no doubt Frazier will be part of one of the most impressive position groups in the Mountain West. Sophomore Curtis Weaver (11 sacks last season) and junior Sam Whitney (five starts) are the STUD end veterans with Frazier.
They will form some combinations that will at times be utilized on the field together, no doubt helping one another, and even those guys on the offensive side of the ball like Rypien in practice..
“It’s really cool having that type of iron to sharpen us up,” junior guard John Molchon said.