KENT: David Fisher came to Kent State nearly two years ago with his sights set on becoming a starting quarterback for a Division I football team.
It appears Fisher, a fifth-year senior, will finally realize his dream Saturday when Kent State (2-5) travels to South Alabama (2-3) for a nonconference game at the site of last season’s GoDaddy.com Bowl game.
Fisher was with the Golden Flashes last season when they lost to Arkansas State 17-13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the program’s first bowl game in 40 years. But his experience was limited to giving the starter signals on the sideline. Although Fisher appeared in nine games last season, his playing time was limited. He completed 14-of-23 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown and ran for 31 yards.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Fisher starred for Palomar Community College near his hometown of Oceanside, Calif., and was recruited by former KSU coach Darrell Hazell and Flashes quarterbacks coach Brian Rock on the advice of friend and former Flashes linebacker C.J. Malauulu.
KSU’s incumbent quarterback Spencer Keith struggled the previous season as a junior and depth at the all-important position was thin, so Hazell and Rock wanted to create competition.
The move worked. Keith and Fisher battled all spring and in preseason camp and made the decision so tough, Hazell postponed announcing his starter twice before finally settling on Keith. The difference was Keith’s ability to protect the football better than the daring Fisher.
“I’m a guy who loves to play football, and that’s the way I grew up playing in the streets and in Pop Warner — without there being a strict guideline to it,” Fisher said. “But I totally understand what coach Rock means about protecting the football and managing the game.
“The areas that I wasn’t good at before, I’ve definitely stepped my game up now. I’ve learned to manage the game. But that desire, that competitiveness to want to make the big play and win is still in me. But the biggest thing is now I’ve learned how to manage my risk taking.”
Entering this season with Keith gone, Fisher competed against redshirt freshman Colin Reardon for the starting role throughout camp. But once again, he was passed over as the strong-armed and more accurate youngster prevailed.
Reardon has been impressive in the first seven games of the season, but he injured his left ankle last week late in a loss to Ball State, leaving the close game in the hands of Fisher. Although Fisher wasn’t able to lead the Flashes to a game-winning final drive, he’s had all week to practice with the first team as the Flashes prepare to face the Jaguars on Saturday.
“It’s a good feeling to know I’m going to start and finally feel that at this level,” said Fisher, who has played in four games this year, completing 7-of-16 passes for 88 yards and rushing twice for minus six yards.
“But nobody wishes for that to happen to a teammate, especially a guy like Colin. So my thing this week is to just act like you been there before, know nothing’s too big for you, just manage the offense and do what you’ve been taught.”
One thing Fisher has learned by watching the game develop from the sideline for the past year and a half is the necessity to remain calm in the huddle regardless of the situation.
“It’s a team game, but after last week, I was more disappointed in myself than anything,” Fisher said of falling just short of upsetting host Ball State. “I just wanted to give our team a chance, and I did not execute those plays … I need to be always ready and always on point with the game plan no matter what happens. I just wish I could have done something more.”
Flashes leading receiver Chris Humphrey said Monday he had plenty of faith in Fisher when he entered the game on the Flashes’ final drive. But in hindsight, he realized Fisher’s adrenaline was running a bit too high.
“Maybe what we could have done better maybe was slow it down a little bit and keep our composure,” Humphrey said. “I felt like we might have rushed some things. But in the future, now we’ve been in that type of situation and we know how to act.”
Fisher’s future — and dream scenario — comes in two days. He knows he’ll have to have a stronger presence in the huddle this time around and finally has the luxury of an entire game to strengthen it.
“The team has to believe in you,” Fisher said. “They’re all looking to the quarterback. So, I have to be on point, not look scrambled and let them be able to look into my eyes and trust me.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.