At nearly 6 feet 5, 225 pounds, with long arms and big hands, Jabril Frazier easily stands out in a crowd of high school football players engaged in workouts at Los Angeles Verbum Dei.
The fact that he usually shows up first and leaves last adds to the intrigue of how good a player he might become.
His philosophy: "When they sleep," he says of opponents, "I'm getting better."
He's a linebacker and defensive end who is expected to add his name to the glittering list of former Verbum Dei athletes who made it to the college level. There have been some well-known names — Akeem Ayers, Kenechi Udeze and Hardy Nickerson among them.
But last season produced a 1-8 record, and new Coach Jason Miller is being asked to rebuild a once-productive football program.
That's why Frazier can be an example for the Eagles of what is possible if he continues to develop. He has scholarship offers from Arizona, Utah and San Diego State. And he's still learning what he can do physically and mentally.
"The thing about Jabril is he has natural God-given ability that you can't coach," Miller said. "He always gives above and beyond."
Frazier remembers being considered chubby at 6 feet, 220 pounds when he was a freshman at Bellflower St. John Bosco. Then he went through a growth spurt between his sophomore and junior year, shooting upward and becoming lanky.
He arrived at Verbum Dei in the spring of his sophomore year. Last season, he had 97 tackles and six sacks. The Eagles' coaches tell him to chase down players with the ball.
"I'm the guy who comes off the edge who goes get the quarterback or goes get the running back," he said.
His motivation to keep getting better leaves a positive impression among the adults trying to help him fulfill his dreams.
During the summer, he rises at 7 a.m., lifts weights at home in the garage and heads to the backyard to jump rope.
"The definition of hard work to me is being up before everyone else," he said. "When everyone else is asleep, I'm in the gym getting bigger or I'm at the beach doing a cone drill."
At Verbum Dei, he's required to have 20 hours of community service per semester, and he has worked with young people in a gang intervention program, helping them with homework and talking with them about goals and aspirations.
He's also part of Verbum Dei's corporate work program, in which students work part time to help pay for their tuition. He works at the California Science Center.
He said he has come to love chemistry, though sacking quarterbacks is first on his list of favorites.
This is the second in a nine-part series looking at the top high school football players in the Southland. Tomorrow: defensive linemen.