In returning to national relevance for the first time in more than a decade, the Colorado football team has played great on defense and, at times, on offense.
They’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason, on and off the field. They’ve leaned on experience and maturity.
However, Colorado (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) would not be where it is today — leading the Pac-12 South division, No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, No. 16 in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll — without each player buying into the idea of excelling in his own role.
For junior tight end George Frazier, that’s been critical to his personal enjoyment of the Buffaloes’ resurgence this season.
CU fans continue to be confused about why the Buffs’ offense doesn’t include Frazier and his fellow tight ends — particularly senior Sean Irwin — in the passing game. Both have proven in the past to be capable receivers, and yet nine games into the year, neither one has a single catch.
“Yeah, it can be a little frustrating,” Frazier said, laughing before his answer as if he knew the question was coming. “But it’s all about the team. As long as we’re winning, me and Sean are happy.”
A converted linebacker, Frazier caught five passes for 35 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2014, while also adding a rushing touchdown. Last year, he caught six passes for 31 yards and a touchdown.
While he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet this season, Frazier has actually taken on a larger role, and its one he takes seriously as the Buffs continue to strive for their goal of a Pac-12 championship.
“You have to think about maturity: just forget (any negativity) and whatever my brother needs, I’m going to do it for him,” Frazier said.
With that attitude, is it any wonder why his teammates voted him as a captain this season?
“George is an excellent leader,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “The guys really respect him.”
Frazier, who came to CU from Monrovia, Calif., has played defense, offense and special teams throughout his career at CU. It’s been two years since he played on defense, but he still sees significant time on offense and special teams.
“He plays a lot of different roles for us,” MacIntyre said. “He touches a lot more of the team than just being in the tight end area. That’s an important aspect of his leadership, and he’s a vocal leader, too. He’s very physical on the football field, so he has that mentality he brings to the team also.”
Frazier has been one of the most respected members of the team since his arrival in 2013, and he has fully embraced his job as one of the Buffs’ five captains this season.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” he said. “I’m quiet, but whenever it comes to closed doors and it’s just team I’m probably one of the captains that talks the most. I’m just making sure people are doing what they need to do, making sure everybody is holding their own, doing their one-11s and things like that.”
CU players often talk about doing their “one-11s,” which means each player takes care of the one job they have among the 11 players on the field.
It’s a message Frazier preaches, in word and deed, as he spends game days doing all he can to block the opposition and open up lanes for CU’s running backs.
“We take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “Whenever me and Sean come on the field, we want to dominate the line of scrimmage. Whoever is in front of us, we just look to move them.”
It may not be the most glamorous role on the field, but it’s one Frazier has embraced.
“I love making plays to help my brothers out,” he said. “Whatever I can do.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.