MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — Dante Stills and Zach Frazier topped off a big week in college football for North Central West Virginia and the Fairmont/Clarksburg area in particular by being named to the All-Big 12s first and second team respectively.
It is difficult to imagine the impact the area has had on college football over the years, but this week Nick Saban guided his Alabama football team past rival Auburn with a thrilling, come-from-behind four-overtime victory to advance to the SEC's championship game.
And Rich Rodriguez was named head coach at Jacksonville State as it moves into FBS football as a member of Conference USA.
Then, on Thursday, the Big 12 — which is awaiting its championship game — came out with awards for the 2012 season and the senior Stills was named to the defensive team at tackle while Frazier, a sophomore, was named second team all-conference.
For Stills, who was selected the pre-season Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, his all-conference play rewarded his decision to return for his senior year.
Earlier he admitted that he had considered jumping into the NFL draft pool with his brother, Darius, last year.
"My goal going into my junior year was I wanted to leave," he said in pre-season interviews. "I wanted to be that three-year dude, but during the year I wasn't performing at the level I expected to be at. I was good, but my stats weren't showing it. I just didn't do as much as I needed to go to the next level."
So while Darius went into the draft as the Big 12's Defensive Lineman of the Year for 2020, only to be bypassed in the draft, Dante came back and worked on the things he felt he needed to improve.
The result was a big season, even though offenses were scheming to double team him.
In the voting of the Big 12 coaches who were not allowed to vote for their own players, Stills left with top honors at his position.
He started all 12 games and finished with 32 tackles, including 25 solo stops, with a team-high six sacks and also a team-leading 13 tackles for losses.
He accomplished what any defensive lineman sets out to accomplish.
"Our main focus is doing our job, getting up field and making penetration," he said. "I'm just trying to cause havoc."
While he was doing that while becoming a leader on defense, sophomore Frazier was gaining league-wide respect in his first full season starting at center.
Like the Stills brothers, Frazier came out of Fairmont Senior's football program and made an immediate impression across the league as a true freshman when he was forced due to injury into starting out of position at guard.
There was none of that this year, Frazier being named the starting center from the beginning and he was a dominant player.
He played all 841 offensive snaps in 2021 and on more than 1,400 snaps in his first two years. He was a three-time WVU Offensive Lineman of the Game (Virginia Tech, TCU, LIU) and finished with a team-high 60 knockdowns and 28 great blocks.
Frazier only surrendered two sacks for the entire season and graded out to 90% or better in 10-of-12 games on overall performance, posting 88% in the other two games.
Earning All-Big 12 honorable mention were defensive back Alonzo Addae, running back Leddie Brown, linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton, offensive lineman James Gmiter, placekicker Casey Legg, defensive back Sean Mahone, defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor, offensive lineman Wyatt Milum, punter Tyler Sumpte and wide receiver/returner Winston Wright Jr.