Sean Rhyan smiled when he realized he was being asked about his former offensive line coach Justin Frye during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I love Coach Frye,” Rhyan said during a meeting with the media on Thursday. “He’s a fantastic coach.”
Rhyan was coached his entire three-year career at UCLA by Frye, who left his position as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in January to become associate head coach at Ohio State for the offense and offensive line coach. Frye helped Rhyan become a freshman All-American in 2019 and a first-team All-Pac-12 offensive lineman in 2021 as the Bruins’ starting left tackle, and Rhyan is now expected to be a pick of start to middle in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Frye became Rhyan’s toughest critic as soon as he arrived on campus, and Rhyan says that played a crucial role in his early success.
“He trains you hard, and I think that’s very important as a player,” Rhyan said. “Especially as a young player coming into UCLA and just starting out as a freshman. Sometimes you need to be told things you don’t want to hear, but other than that he’s going to train you hard and he’s going to get you going. to the point where you need to be to succeed and build teams to win games.”
Rhyan says Frye didn’t water things down when he coached his players at UCLA, but at the same time he was able to change his coaching style to connect with each of his individual players.
“He’s extremely honest, and he’s a very outspoken person and he’s able to talk to you in a way that matches your personality,” Rhyan said. “He has a good feel for every individual player he has in his O-line room, and with that he’s able to have those tough conversations with you.”
Rhyan thinks Ohio State’s offensive linemen will also enjoy playing for Frye, as long as they’re willing to accept his constructive criticism.
“He’s going to train you hard and you’re going to learn to love him,” Rhyan said. “He’s a great coach, he’s tough, but he’s also a great guy.”
Train them hard, love them hard!! #my guys
— Justin Frye (@CoachJFrye) March 3, 2022
None of this came as a surprise to Rhyan when he arrived at UCLA, as Frye’s honest brand of coaching was part of what convinced Rhyan – top rookie Frye landed at UCLA as a prospect. overall No. 74 in the class of 2019 – to choose to play for the Bruins.
“He just told me how it was,” Rhyan said of playing for Frye. “He was honest with me, he didn’t sugar coat anything and even before I was hired he was just telling me how it was. And I like that. Honesty is the best policy that’s why I love Coach Frye and have built a fantastic relationship with him.
“He trains you hard, and I think that’s very important as a player.”– Former UCLA offensive lineman Sean Rhyan on Justin Frye
With Frye in the lead, UCLA had one of the best rushing offenses in the nation in each of Rhyan’s last two seasons at Westwood, as the Bruins ranked 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game in 2020 (230 .6) and 14th in the same category in 2021 (215.1). Rhyan has also personally excelled in pass protection, allowing just two sacks during his three-year career at UCLA, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Bruins offense featured many creative running plays with Frye at the helm, and Rhyan says the reason they were able to do this effectively was because Frye trusted his offensive linemen to execute those plays while teaching them these games in a way that made them easy to learn.
“They knew the O line was able to understand and execute these complex running games,” Rhyan said. “They look complex but in reality, once you break them down, they’re quite simple.”
Although Rhyan is now taking the next step in his football career and Frye is now coaching a new group of offensive linemen in Columbus, Rhyan says he has continued to stay in touch with Frye, and Rhyan believes that everything he’s learned from Frye over the past three years will help him continue to succeed at the next level.
“I think the way they taught us and instilled a good foundation in us is going to help not only me, but also my teammates at UCLA to understand and make the NFL playbook easier to understand,” said Rhyan said.