Denzel Fisher (USA Today)

31 Most Important Bruins: #19 Denzel Fisher

July 5 -- Coming in at No. 19 in our countdown is a redshirt junior cornerback who made a leap this offseason...

With about one month to go until the start of fall camp, we're going to count down our 31* most important UCLA players for the 2017 season. These are the players we think are going to have the most significant impact for UCLA this year, so don't take this to mean that these are the players we think are the best long-term prospects, or even necessarily the most talented. Every BRO staffer has ranked his top 31* UCLA players, and from that we've drawn an aggregate list.

We'll continue today with No. 19.

*This was originally our top 30, and then, because I'm bad at managing spreadsheets, I missed a name that made the cut. So, instead, it's our top 31! #ExtraContent

19. Denzel Fisher, Redshirt Junior CB

2016 Statistics: 4 tackles

Why He's Important: At the start of spring camp, it didn't look like Fisher was going to be one of the starting corners. Veteran Nathan Meadors took all the reps at the starting left corner spot (Fabian Moreau's position from last year) and Johnny Johnson was taking pretty much all the first-team reps at the starting right CB position. However, with Johnson deciding to transfer after just a few days of spring camp, Fisher was suddenly thrown into the starting spotlight. 

Based on what we heard in the offseason, we thought he'd look better than he did last year, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise exactly how much better he looked. While he still got a little handsy at times in coverage, he looked so much more confident and knowledgeable on the field, staying with even UCLA's best receivers. Obviously, translating practice play to games is a difficult task, but he certainly had a nice spring -- at least, while he remained healthy. He sat out most of the last two weeks with an elbow injury, sacrificing some important development time. If he can pick up where he left off in fall, that'll give UCLA a real ability to build depth in the secondary.

Basically, it comes down to this: if Fisher can play at somewhere above Pac-12 average at corner, that'll give the Bruins the ability to let some of their younger talent develop, and allow guys like Darnay Holmes to ease into the defense a bit more by playing nickel, rather than being on the field initially for every package as a starting corner. He showed us enough this spring, even after his struggles the past couple of years, to think that's possible.

What's Been Said About Him: 

"I wouldn’t use the word ‘surprised’ – it was expected. I would be disappointed if it didn’t happen. Just developing those guys and giving them the reps and giving them the opportunity to get better, and they’re taking ownership of it. Those guys are in their playbooks, they’re out here early (to practice), doing extra technique, they’re out here late doing extra technique. " -- DB Coach Demetrice Martin on Fisher stepping up, April 19, 2017

Most Recent Interview:

Top 31 Most Important Bruins:

RankNameHighest RankLowest Rank
19 Denzel Fisher  4 (Matt Joye)  22 (2-way tie) 
20 Jaleel Wadood  3 (John Evergreen)  25 (2-way tie) 
21 J.J. Molson  14 (Dave Woods)  26 (Matt Joye) 
22 Matt Dickerson  13 (John Evergreen)  26 (Blair Angulo) 
23 Najee Toran  16 (Tracy Pierson) Unranked (2-way tie) 
24 Keisean Lucier-South  6 (Matt Joye)  Unranked (2-way tie) 
25 Eldridge Massington  20 (Matt Joye)   29 (Blair Angulo)
26 Stefan Flintoft  23 (Dave Woods)   29 (Matt Joye)
27 Theo Howard 19 (Blair Angulo)  30 (Matt Joye)
28 Devon Modster 14 (Tracy Pierson) Unranked (3-way tie)
29 DeChaun Holiday 17 (Matt Joye) Unranked (Blair Angulo)
30 Breland Brandt 21 (John Evergreen) Unranked (3-way tie)
31 Mossi Johnson 23 (John Evergreen) Unranked (4-way tie)

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