When Eric Fisher’s high school coach told him that he needed to be an offensive lineman to play college football, he wasn’t too excited. “At first it’s like, come on, offensive line?” said Fisher, who had been a rush-outside linebacker and defensive end.
Five years later, Fisher is expected to be the second offensive tackle taken in April’s draft. “It was probably one of the best moves in my life. I’ve been an offensive tackle ever since,” he said.
The 6-7, 305-pounder received only two scholarship offers — Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. “Back in high school, not many people would have told you I would have played college ball. I was very, very lightly recruited,” he recalled.
Fisher chose Central Michigan and played sparingly as a true freshman. Following the season, he met his new offensive line coach, Mike Cummings.
“I saw a player that could develop into a great player, but at the same time, he was 278 pounds, which is very thin for his height,” Cummings said. “I saw a guy with lots of potential, a great ability to change direction, and he was very coachable.”
After starting 10 games at left tackle his junior year, Fisher met with Cummings to talk senior year and beyond. “Coach, I have one question for you, do you think I can play pro football?” Fisher asked. “I told him that I don’t think there’s any question — at what level is up to you and what you do this offseason and what you do next season,” Cummings said.
As a senior, Fisher started every game at left tackle and started climbing up draft boards, but it was his performance at the Senior Bowl that has set the former Chippewa apart. He received rave reviews against some of the top senior pass rushers in the nation. Fisher knew that his performance in Mobile would be key.
“I knew exactly what people were saying at the time, leading up to the Senior Bowl. I went down there with a mission,” he said. “I had a chip on my shoulder coming out of a MAC school. I had a lot to prove after not going against the highest competition every week in the MAC. I knew I needed to have a great week.
“I went down there with that mindset and took care of business. It was a great week going against that kind of competition, it makes you a better player and makes you appreciate the game more when you have someone very highly touted across from you.”
Count Cummings as someone not at all surprised by Fisher’s performance in front of scouts, personnel men and coaches from around the NFL.
“He’s a great competitor. He relishes in the ability to play against the best,” Cummings said. “I’m not surprised at all. He loves competition. He wants to kick your ass, that’s what he wants to do.”
Cummings lauded Fisher’s agility at the left tackle position and how he can balance that with strength and power.
“His athleticism is incredible. Being able to change direction and maintain balance in a power position, a lot of guys can’t do that,” he said. “The biggest overall thing he does, he’s a balanced, powerful athlete. I can’t emphasize that enough. He can punch and hold off a bull rusher, but at the same time, he can change direction on a speed rusher. … It’s tough to beat someone like that.”
Fisher credits his basketball experience — he was all-league in high school and a captain as a senior — and playing other positions on the football field for helping him develop into an athletic left tackle.
“The offensive line has turned into an athletic position now, I think that’s going to really benefit me over the years,” he said.
When Fisher was asked about what teams will learn about him when he’s drafted, he got humble, maybe too modest for someone who should be a top-15 pick.
“Hopefully my dream will come true in April (and I will get drafted). I’m not a person to get ahead of myself,” he said. “On the field, I try to be the toughest guy out there doing my job, taking pride in protecting the quarterback and getting the ball moving.
“Off the field, I want to be a good role model, good citizen who helps out in the community, just to be an all-around good guy.”
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