Three years in the weight room can do you a lot of good. Just ask Garrett Frye.
When Frye came to Georgia Southern as a freshman in 2011, he was 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and he looked more like a basketball player.
Now he’s pushing 280, and he’s a preseason third-team All American offensive lineman for the Eagles.
“A lot’s changed since my freshman year,” Frye said. “I’ve gained about 65 pounds. It came pretty easy with a great coaching staff, coach (Tom) Melton and coach Skyler (Pyles). They feed you constantly.”
With his length and added weight this season, Frye was moved from right to left tackle to protect the quarterback’s blind side.
“He’s one of the tallest guys we’ve ever had, and he’s going to continue to get better,” offensive coordinator Brent Davis said about Frye. “He’s got a good work ethic, and he’s hard on himself, which is good.”
Frye anchors an offensive line that, for maybe the first time in years, brings a considerable amount of depth.
The starting five of the offensive line consists of two seniors in right tackle Dorian Byrd and right guard Zach Lonas and a junior left guard in Trevor McBurnett.
Sophomore Manrey Saint-Amour, who has packed on an additional 40 pounds since last season, will play center. Were it not for an injury early in 2012, Saint-Amour would have started all 14 games.
“Manrey’s the emotional leader of the group,” Davis said. “He’s got tons of energy, he’s got a great motor and he’s always the guy talking in the huddle and getting the other guys going.”
It was sheer talent that put Saint-Amour on the field as a freshman, but it’s his progression in fundamentals that has impressed Davis. Saint-Amour has transitioned well from a shotgun-based passing game in high school at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee to GSU’s spread-option, run-based offense.
“He’s become more of a technician,” Davis said. “That’s one thing about last year — he got by on effort some of the time. He didn’t always have his feet and eyes in the right place. He’s done a much better job of that.”
Saint-Amour has a familiar face backing him up at center. Andy Kwon, a 282-pound freshman from North Gwinnett, has earned a spot on the two deep.
“We’re more than brothers, to be honest,” Kwon said about Saint-Amour. “He’s one of the guys I look up to, and I’ve been looking up to him since high school. I look up to him, but it’s not just me, it’s the city of Suwanee and our high school. He’s such a well-respected guy. I try to follow in his footsteps. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to play football at Georgia Southern.”
“I’ve seen (Kwon) grow up,” Saint-Amour added.
Sophomore left guard Darien Foreman has earned a spot on the two-deep behind McBurnett. Logan Daves, a 305-pound junior, is recovering from an injury and fighting for a starting spot, and tackles Maurice Hunt and Jeff Ward round out an offensive line that has more of a rotation than Davis has seen during the past three seasons.
“I can remember in 2010, games where we only played five guys,” Davis said. “Last year, we had five different starting offensive lines the first five weeks because guys were in and out. Hopefully, we’re starting to get some continuity and depth.”
Georgia Southern’s season kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, against Savannah State in Paulson Stadium.