COLUMN: The rise of Eric Fisher and the MAC



With the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Eric Fisher, offensive tackle, Central Michigan.

It actually happened; Fisher, a two-star recruit from Rochester Hills Stoney Creek coming into Mount Pleasant, was picked No. 1 overall.

I'm from Mount Pleasant and never would I have imagined someone from CMU going No. 1. I've seen first round, but never No. 1 overall.

I saw Chris Kaman play in person and watched on TV when he was the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. I also saw Joe Staley in person in 2007 and then watched when he was the 28th overall pick that year in the NFL Draft.

But, this just happened to be Fisher's year.

Even more impressive, he did it in a year where the lineman class was strong. He emerged the strongest, most athletic and the one with the most potential.

The draft class is lacking star power: no quarterback, no running back, no wide receiver; the stars just simply were not shining this year.

That gave way to one of the most important, but, unheralded, positions in the NFL; left tackle.

Why is left tackle so important? Well, simply because he is the man who keeps the quarterback upright and healthy; he protects the side of the line the quarterback normally can't see, thus the term 'blind side.'

That isn't the only thing that turned Fisher's way this season.

If you think about it, the whole season has been leading up to this.

Don't forget, CMU was 3-6 and staring down another losing season -- that is, until the team ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak to become bowl eligible.

But, that doesn't mean anything -- it has been eligible before and not made a bowl game.

But, this happened to be a weak year for some BCS conferences, which created a technicality that allowed fellow Mid-American Conference member Northern Illinois into the Orange Bowl. And with some bad planning of wait-and-see by another mid-major, the Chippewas were able to slide into an opening for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, giving Fisher a chance to show what he has on national television.

The game was the only one televised that night, so everybody had their eyes on the game and on Fisher.

CMU won, and Fisher received an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he hit the scene.

Coming in as a late first-round pick, Fisher stole the show at the Senior Bowl, dominating offensive line drills against players from bigger schools, proving he could hang with the big boys. He left Alabama as a mid-early first-round pick.

Next came the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where he beat fellow offensive tackle from Texas A & M Luke Joeckel in many of the drills. After that, Fisher saw his name fly into the top-10 in almost every mock draft.

Then came pro day, and, a few weeks later Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid visited Mount Pleasant and personally watched Fisher.

By then, Fisher saw his name at No. 2, with some even having him No. 1.

It was Wednesday, the night before the draft when everyone started putting Eric Fisher ahead of Joeckel — and now it's official.

Fisher is the No. 1 pick, not only the highest CMU player picked in history, but the highest MAC player in history.

What a journey -- one that is representative of the season, for Fisher, CMU and the MAC.


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