When Clear Spring (Md.) defensive end Joey Fisher suffered a torn labrum seven games into his sophomore season, he figured his dream of playing college football might have ended right then and there. A two-way star for the tiny Western Maryland program, Fisher, playing fullback, took a handoff up the middle; absorbed a vicious hit from a linebacker; and then tried to brace himself before tumbling to the turf. Unfortunately for Fisher, his elbow buckled as three or four defenders piled on.
Fisher knew the injury was serious, but he opted to play out the string with a harness before heading to surgery in the offseason. Problem was, the local surgery center didn’t have the equipment or staff to perform a proper repair, so they sent the Clear Spring product to Johns Hopkins instead. Hopkins, though, had a six-month wait list before they could operate, meaning Fisher didn’t have his labrum repaired until last May.
“So I ended up missing my entire junior season,” Fisher said. “I was pretty devastated; everything I worked for … it was just, like, gone.”
Until April 21 that is.
That’s when Maryland area recruiter Chad Wilt, the Terps’ defensive line coach, let the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder know that, despite not having any junior film, the hometown school still wanted him in their program.
“It was just so awesome. I was so thankful,” an emotional Fisher said. “When Coach Chad told me I had the offer, I really didn’t have any words. I was in shock. I mean, I played football since third grade, and my dream has always been to play at the college level. And now it can finally come true. I can’t even express how I feel.”
Fisher said he had been in contact with Wilt via Twitter “here and there,” but the recruit never figured it was anything more than casual chatter. But in recent weeks, Fisher said Wilt started building a deeper connection, asking about his game, his footwork and what he thought about UMD.
The Clear Spring end, along with his father, then decided to visit College Park, Md., for the first time in March, taking in a spring practice.
A month later, during the spring evaluation period, Wilt forayed up to the high school to watch Fisher work out. And evidently the Terps’ defensive line coach was impressed with what he saw.
“Coach Chad watched me do agility drills, step-over drills and things like that, and he really liked what I could do,” Fisher said. “Then after school [April 20] he messaged me and asked me to call him. We talked for a little while and he gave me some feedback on my workout and my tape from freshman and sophomore years. And he kept asking me over and over, ‘How would it feel to play for your hometown school?’ And I kept responding, ‘It would be an honor and a privilege.’
“And then [April 21] he asked me the same question again, and I gave him the same response. But this time he was like, ‘Well, it’s not a hypothetical question anymore. You want to be a Terp?’ So that’s how I got the full ride.”
So, will Fisher accept that full ride?
“I definitely might take that offer,” he said. “I had to talk to my parents more, and I think Coach Chad wants to get me on campus to talk more, but it’s definitely my top option. I was born in PG County, I grew up three miles from the stadium, so it’s like going back home for me. Plus it’s convenient for my parents and family; it’s a great situation.”
Fisher said he and Wilt are in the process of scheduling a return trip to College Park, at which time the Clear Spring recruit is expected to commit. The edge rusher said Wilt is coming back to Clear Spring April 28, and they’ll likely finalize a full tour of Maryland soon after that.
Of course, Fisher has already been there once before and left highly impressed.
“Oh I loved it,” he said. “It’s definitely a gorgeous campus, and the facilities are awesome. I met like everyone on the staff and they were all very nice. The players were really nice too, and they were telling me all about the life of student-athletes there. Then I know they’re building these sick new practice fields, and I wouldn’t mind playing on those for sure (laughs).
“I got to sit in on the defensive line meeting too, and I loved watching Coach Chad work with the guys. I learned about the different groups and how the defense worked, and I loved how energetic Coach Chad was. He has a fire to him, and the way he ran his drills was so professional and on-point.”
In addition to UMD, Fisher has seen Wake Forest, NC State, West Virginia and Towson. He said he’s in touch with each of their staffs on Twitter but isn’t sure any of those programs will offer.
“Right now Maryland is the main one,” Fisher said. “I don’t have any other specific school I’m looking for. One is all you really need in the end.”
Fisher said the Terps are recruiting him as a 5-technique defensive end. He said his torn labrum is now 100 percent healed and he’s in the weight room every day trying to build his strength back up.
“I’m ready to go. I actually played basketball this year, and now I’m in football mode again,” Fisher said. “I can’t wait to get back on the field and show everyone what I can do.”
Fisher Lands Dream Offer, Set To Commit?
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