It only takes an observer a few minutes to see why the Wildcats are so high on rising junior quarterback George Frazier, the player bestowed with the unenviable task of replacing Nick Bueno, who started for the Wildcats for the last three years and led the program to his senior year.
At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Frazier is an imposing figure under center. He has the size to stay in the pocket and scan the field for open receivers, and he has the arm strength to hit a receiver in stride about 30-yards downfield.
“George is coming along well,” Monrovia head coach Ryan Maddox said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a matter of getting the experience. He’s got a strong arm. He’s very smart in the game. He understands it. He’s hard working. He’s got a lot of experience playing quarterback. He just doesn’t have a ton of varsity level experience. So the more reps he gets the better he’s going to get.”
Frazier spent the majority of his time at linebacker as a sophomore, finishing fifth on the team with 46 tackles while recording one sack and an interception. But all that time spent on the defensive side of the field doesn’t mean Frazier is a novice when it comes to the offensive game.
Frazier threw two touchdowns last year serving as Bueno’s backup, and he’s just two years removed from quarterbacking the Wildcats freshman team.
“It’s been pretty easy because my whole life I’ve played both ways,” Frazier said of his transition back to quarterback.
Frazier’s familiarity with the offense has allowed Maddox to install his full playbook and not rely on a watered down version until Frazier gets his sea legs.
“One of George’s strengths is his knowledge of the game,” Maddox said. “He understands the offense -- he ran it last year. So he’s a smart kid. His dad is a coach. He’s been around the game. He understands what’s going on.”
That isn’t to say there won’t be differences between a Frazier-led offense and the one the Wildcats ran with Bueno. The two quarterbacks’ strengths are about as different as their physical statures. The small, but lightening-quick Bueno, thrived on rollouts and designed quarterback runs that let him jitterbugging his way through opposing defenses.
Frazier can run when necessary – he tucked it ran on a number of plays Wednesday, including one in which he bulled over his guard at the end of the play – but he said he’s most comfortable sitting back in the pocket and reading the defense.
“They’re two different styles of quarterbacks,” Monrovia head coach Ryan Maddox said after Wednesday’s practice. “They have different strengths. George’s is his height, his arm. With Nick it’s his feet and his ability to escape.
“With Nick it was more quarterback style runs. … He was a natural running back for us a lot of the time. With George … the focus will be a little different. It won’t be as many quarterback style runs. It’ll be him distributing the ball, throwing the ball, and play action and stuff like that.”
Certainly there are things Frazier must improve upon if the Wildcats are to repeat their success from last year. As with most young quarterbacks, accuracy will be a question mark. Maddox said Frazier still tends to muscle up on the ball when a soft touch on a throw would be a smarter move.
And fitness will a big point of emphasis for Frazier, as he’ll continue to see plenty of snaps at linebacker in addition to his QB duties.
“He’s right on pace. He just needs to keep working to get better,” Maddox said. “He’s getting better and better. … He’s a really talented young man.”
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