CLEAR SPRING, Md. -- On Sept. 11 the Clear Spring Blazers ran their record to 2-0 with a 28-10 win over Brunswick High School (Md.). The Blazers dominated from the opening kick, and Maryland verbal commit Defensive End Joey Fisher played a major role in the game. He recorded seven tackles, three quarterback sacks, three quarterback hurries and a partially blocked punt.
Our take on Fisher is below, while an interview and highlights can be seen in the video above:
While the Terps have Fisher pegged as a defensive end, the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder showed his versatility against the Rail Roaders by making plays from the nose, in the gap and from the edge. Fisher was moved around by the Blazer coaching staff so that he could be active in more plays. The trend for opposing teams is to run plays away from the future Terp.
At first glance, Fisher definitely looks the part and appears to be on the right path to fit into Maryland’s 4-3 defensive scheme. Fisher has plenty of raw talent, but needs to harness it and have better technique when he steps up his competition level in college. Like most high schoolers, Fisher needs to play with lower pad level, and has to understand leverage and keeping the play within his zone. Fisher played well at the nose and made some stops coming off of the edge, but he was most effective playing in the gap. He has a pretty explosive first step and has pretty good hands.
Fisher does well playing in confined space and seems comfortable with his hand in the dirt. But, he was often upright coming from the edge and didn’t have as much impact as he did inside.
But clearly Fisher has the speed and strength to get upfield and disrupt the backfield. He showed that kind of tenacity while playing center on the offensive side of the ball. On one particular play, Fisher pulled and led the blocking around the left end before decleating a linebacker 10-yards downfield at the goal line (allowing his running back to easily slide into the end zone).
Fisher is still knocking the rust off of his game due to the fact that he missed all of last season with a torn labrum seven games into his sophomore year. Fisher did tweak his shoulder in the second series of the game when he reached to make a tackle in the backfield, stretching his arm to its limits. Fisher took two series off to get treatment and an adjustment to his brace.
When Fisher returned to the game, he didn’t seem to favor his injury. In fact, on his first snap, he forced a quarterback hurry that halted a pretty good drive being orchestrated by Brunswick.
While Fisher needs to learn to play lower, he also has to understand how to use his height to his advantage. He did get his hands in the air to partially block a punt late in the game (and the highlight video shows him forcing the quarterback to throw ever his outstretched arm), but there were other times when he wasn’t effective firing his hands up. Yes, does use his hands well to shed blockers, but he needs to work on using them all of the time.
Fisher can play skinny, too. He slithers through holes that seemingly aren’t there, and three times he forced the quarterback into hurried throws. But, there were other times when he didn’t break down and maintain his center of gravity, allowing the quarterback to slide away. Fisher sometimes over-pursued and did not contain the play within his space.
It does seem that Fisher is really comfortable favoring his moves to the left. Several times he would hard plant to the right and then make his penetration to the left inside the tackle gap. He definitely needs to mix things up more and not rely on just that move. It’s something he can get away with at the high school level, but college offensive linemen will make adjustments.
Overall, Fisher looked like he has the body type and the athleticism to fit in well at UMD. But he also wasn’t playing against top caliber talent, so there were plenty of lapses he got away with. With more focus on his technique and becoming a more disciplined pass rusher, it seems Fisher can, in time, fine-tune his game enough to be an effective college player.