Improvement, Patience Paying Off For Frias

Walking the streets of quaint Safford, Arizona Ralph Frias has witnessed the bewildered stares and heard the whispers for quite some time.

When you stand 6-feet-7 inches tall, weigh close to 320 muscular pounds and routinely bench press 340-350 you’re bound to stick out in a small town, even to people who can’t accurately target your age.

“They all think he plays at [Eastern Arizona College],” Safford head coach Michael Alba said to flashing a wry grin about his star who was 6-foot-4, 250 pounds as a sixth-grader. “He’s been getting that for quite a few years. He’s never really played at Safford when people walk by. They just assume he’s an Eastern Arizona football player.”

Thanks to a strong senior year, which has seen Frias drop weight but add strength to his already massive frame, the college offers are coming in for the big kid from the small town.

His body, mind and ability have evolved since his first days playing varsity as a freshman.

“I’ve changed a lot,” Frias explained to “I was that shy freshman kid just coming up. I learned from past generations and the time you’ve spent at high school.”

His wide-ranging list of offers are spread across the country from UMass, to Dartmouth (Frias holds a 3.5 grade-point-average), to Central Florida, to New Mexico State, to San Diego State and the University of Minnesota among others. It appears Frias’ top choices include ASU, San Diego State and UNLV but with his recruiting heating up, he’s in no hurry to make a decision mid-season.

Ralph_Frias_Action 2This past summer he took the hard road back following an ACL injury which altered his workout routine after having surgery in January. Through it all, Frias was determined to play his senior season for the Bulldogs with no regrets.

“His physicality has grown a lot,” Alba said of his senior leader. “He’s starting to be more dominant play in and play out. He’s taken on the role of being a very physical player.”

Practice makes perfect.

Ralph Frias is living proof.

Not bad for a big guy from a small town.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.