No operation can run without smaller functioning units.
Consider this operation: a championship football team with the top-ranked offense in the country.
The smaller functioning units of the full squad are each position group: the quarterback, the wide receivers, running backs, linebackers, defensive backs, etc.
They say the game is won in the trenches, housing the smaller functioning unit of the offensive linemen.
The most selfless position in sports. Credit is never given where it’s due. No statistics to rifle off and impress others with.
They endure hit after hit, take all the blame for the bad and never get acknowledged for the good.
The most inspiring part? They wouldn’t want it any other way.
Charles Turner III and Miles Frazier were both three-star recruits out of high school, with Frazier beginning his college career at Florida International University where he was awarded Freshman All-America honors. Turner is a fifth-year senior who has seen increasing responsibility and growth as his career has gone on, and he is now regarded as one of the best centers in the SEC.
“Most centers today are not the biggest,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said last season of Turner. “They’re usually the smartest, and they’re usually guys that can move. Charles can do those things for us.”
Turner started in all of LSU’s 2022 contests outside of the season-opener in New Orleans against Florida State. Earning a starting position for a perennial SEC power is no small feat, but no one would have known that based on Turner’s reaction.
“Getting the job, emotionally, I didn’t think too much about it,” Turner said. “Every day I prepare as if I’m the starter. Of course, I was happy, but it wasn’t time for that. It was time for me to stay on the grind and keep going because it can be taken away from me as fast as it was given to me.”
Any temporary satisfaction Turner felt paled in comparison to the standard LSU offensive line coach Brad Davis continuously holds his linemen to. The philosophy leaves no room for individuality. There is only the unit, and it moves, studies, prepares and competes as one.
Part of what Davis drills into the offensive line is that they need to know all five positions inside and out. Frazier recalled meetings where Coach Davis would quiz all the linemen about one another’s jobs, ensuring they weren’t exclusively focused on what is normally their individual position.
“On the offensive line, we have a standard that we have to uphold,” Frazier said. “We have to know every single position.”
This knowledge pays dividends whenever the offensive line must shuffle, which can unfortunately happen often, since the game can be the most physical in the trenches.
“It’s just instilled in all of us, throughout the whole group,” Turner said of the team’s cohesive mindset through personnel changes. “You’ve got to prepare for anything, really. When we study for teams, we’re not just studying for our position like, ‘Oh, just know center or just know guard.’ Everybody must know all five positions because if somebody goes down, then we’ve got to step it up. It’s the next man up.”
Part of Turner’s role as a veteran on the team is ensuring the next man up feels prepared. When he could be focusing on himself and making himself look the best prior to pursuing a career in the NFL, Turner keeps the main thing the main thing.
If the team wins, everybody wins.
For the team to win, every man must serve another. It would be hard to find better leaders than the guys that on every single down sacrifice every individual desire for the betterment of the team since the day they started playing football.
“My role and responsibility this year is to lead those guys and get everybody on the same page,” Turner said. “Coming into the fall, we’ve done a great job of gelling together. Just working hard, making plays and just pushing each other to be the best we know we can be.”
The unit consists of iron sharpening iron. However, sometimes you need a little extra belief from the man running the whole operation.
Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Frazier said that most people believed LSU could, over time, be back on top, but the men inside the football facility felt a sense of urgency.
“When I sat down with Coach Kelly and Coach Davis one-on-one, I could see the vision that they had and that it would come true, possibly even in Year 1,” Frazier said. “I just trust the process and their plan for me, and their plan for the O-line as well.”
An under-recruited player out of high school, Frazier could have given up on himself before he had a real chance. Although he started at a smaller school like FIU, he was always meant for the big stage. He believed it deep down, and his leaders reinforced it.
“I was always meant to play at this level; I just had a different path than everyone else,” Frazier said. “I just knew I had more in me – not to be cocky or anything – but I knew I had more in the tank, and that I could play at the highest level. We talk to the strength coaches a lot, and they always say, ‘Why not now? Why can’t we be what everyone thinks we’ll be in the future, now?’”
Tempering the smallest glimpse of confidence with a disclaimer is the most typical offensive linemen-like answer, but it proves how hard-pressed one is to get anything self-aggrandizing out of these two men.
While the statistics for offensive linemen don’t jump off the page, the impact Turner and Frazier have on their teammates cannot be quantified by a number. Although their quarterback, Jayden Daniels, is a Heisman Trophy candidate and gets a lot of deserved credit, both he and the nation know that the whole operation doesn’t run without the anchors of the unit.