Ohio State football: Meyer forged Fragel into line prospect
INDIANAPOLIS — A year ago, Reid Fragel was a converted backup tight end for Ohio State, competing to win the right tackle job against a freshman.
A chance at playing in the NFL hardly seemed possible. But after a difficult, and ultimately triumphant, senior season, a pro career is within reach.
“A year ago, coach (Urban) Meyer told me I had the potential to be here,” Fragel said at the NFL combine yesterday. “Sticking to the plan, as grueling as it was and tough as it was, coach Meyer got the best out of me. I’m forever thankful to him and his staff for the job they did.”
It wasn’t until a week before the season opener that Fragel finally beat out Taylor Decker for the starting job. Week by week, he improved significantly, turning Meyer from a skeptic to one of his biggest boosters. NFL scouts say Fragel’s combination of size, athleticism, intelligence and competitiveness make him a prospect with plenty of potential.
More than two months before the draft it’s difficult to project where he might go, but Fragel could be the second Buckeyes player taken after projected first-rounder Johnathan Hankins.
“I try not to look at that stuff,” Fragel said. “You hear things here and there. I’m just looking forward to performing well this week, and I think that’ll put me in the higher grouping of linemen.”
Fragel prefers to look at his inexperience at tackle as a strength. He plans to work out for scouts this weekend.
“I think after this week’s over they’ll see that I possess a lot of strength and speed,” he said. “I have a lot of tread left on my tires, where some of these linemen might be worn down a little bit more. I think my best football is ahead of me.”
Jake Stoneburner was the starter at tight end at Ohio State when Fragel was his backup. Stoneburner said he believes Fragel has All-Pro potential.
“He’s as athletic as any tackle you’ll see,” Stoneburner said. “He’s as strong as any tackle you’ll see. And he has still only played it for one year. It’s just total upside from there.”
Fragel said that thanks to Meyer, he’ll be better prepared for the pressure-cooker of the NFL.“He always put pressure on me,” Fragel said. “I think that really helped me with the transition, getting ready for the next level. That constant pressure to know there’s a guy behind you that can take your spot at any second, it’s a reality of the next level that he brought to my attention last year.”