Zach Frazier explains wearing No. 54 with Pittsburgh Steelers

Zach Frazier can’t help his toughness. It’s embedded in his soul. The Steelers rookie loved Pittsburgh’s physical style of play when he was growing up in West Virginia. Plus, he always wears the number 54 in honor of another player known for his tenacity.

But yikes. The Steelers newest offensive lineman wears his number because of a Dallas Cowboy. He explained that his parents were big fans of the Miami Dolphins. And they loved long-time Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas. He’s the Texas Tech star who finished his career back home in Texas with the Cowboys. Last August, former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson presented Thomas for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The number, Frazier told the Steelers web site has “always been special to me.”

Pittsburgh selected Frazier with the 51st pick of the second round of the NFL Draft last month. The former West Virginia Mountaineer probably is everything a coach wants from an offensive lineman. He’s talented, as evidenced by his All-America accolades. And he’s smart. Frazier also was an academic All-American with a 3.88 GPA while majoring in sports management.

Plus, he’s also athletic. Frazier excelled in both football and wrestling in high school back home in Fairmont, WV. In fact, he was a four-time state champion in wrestling.

“You know, you go straight from football season, to wrestling season, to baseball,” Frazier said. “It was just a fun time to be a kid and play all these sports and really have a good time.”

The Steelers wanted to draft a center in the first round with the 20th pick. Instead, they opted for Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu, who Pittsburgh coaches didn’t expect to be available that late in the first round. Perhaps they found their future long-time starter with pick No. 51.

And speaking of the draft, Frazier’s time with the Steelers got off to a bad start. Literally. When Mike Tomlin called Frazier to welcome the center to the team, Frazier said he knew, immediately, it was Pittsburgh on the phone. He recognized the area code.

However, once he answered “I could hear them, they couldn’t hear me, so I ran upstairs,” he said.

But since then, he’s been studying the playbook. He might’ve landed in the most perfect place for his talents. Marc Ross, an analyst for, recently listed the rookies who ended up in the best spot. Ross described Frazier as a “brawler who embodies everything this franchise is about. His experience and toughness will allow him to step in immediately as the pivot of an overhauled unit with a new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.”

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