Fisher is Vol to watch

No member of Tennessee football's 2006 signing class has created more buzz than Walter Fisher, and that's understandable. The 6-3, 265-pound defensive end should have immediate impact on the program.

Rated the state's top prospect as a senior at Nashville's Hillsboro High School in 2003, Fisher arrived at UT in January after a two-year stop at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College. He redshirted in 2004, then recorded 27 tackles – 11 of them for lost yardage – en route to recognition as the Kansas Jayhawk Conference's defensive player of the year for 2005.

So what makes Walter Fisher so special?

"He's got a great work ethic, from what we've seen in our weight room and running program," says UT defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell. "He puts forth the kind of effort you're looking for. He plays very aggressive, which is what I really like about him, and he plays fast. He's got really good quickness."

Defensive coordinator John Chavis also likes Fisher's work ethic.

"He's willing to work," Chavis said. "He's fitting in good with the team. It seems like he's been here a long time. He's eager to learn and willing to work. That's a good starting place."

Eager to learn … willing to work… aggressive … quick. Fisher sounds a lot like former Vol defensive end Parys Haralson, doesn't he?

"Walter plays the game a lot like Parys but he might not have quite the quickness Parys has," Caldwell notes. "Parys was pretty special."

Fisher could be pretty special, too. He was a head-hunting linebacker with sideline-to-sideline range during his days at Hillsboro. Even with the weight he added in junior college, he's still awfully agile.

"He played linebacker in high school, which tells you he's pretty athletic," Caldwell says. "With his quickness and the way he likes to get to the football, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do."

That opportunity will arrive Saturday, when the Vols hold their first full-scale scrimmage of the spring.

"If he can carry what he's done in the off-season onto the field," Caldwell notes, "I think he'll be able to help us this fall."

With 2005 starters Haralson and Jason Hall out of eligibility, Caldwell is going to need help from Fisher, Antonio Reynolds, Robert Ayers and Xavier Mitchell. Raymond Henderson, Wes Brown and Jared Hostetter also are hoping to earn playing time at end.

"This is one of the toughest springs I've had since I've been here; I don't have a guy who's started a football game," Caldwell says. "Antonio played a lot last year, and so did Xavier, but Xavier missed last spring with back surgery and he's missing this spring with shoulder surgery.

"That opens the door for guys like Robert Ayers and Raymond Henderson."

And, of course, Walter Fisher.

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