September 2, 2008

Fisher answers all the questions

Apparently, there was one person who expected Elvis Fisher to do what he did on Saturday night.

"Probably I'm the only one that wasn't surprised. That seemed to be the biggest question everybody's biggest concern and obviously you're concerned you put a player that hasn't played in a game like that against the type of players that he had to play against," said Missouri offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen. "Elvis performed well in practice all through spring, all this fall, he was a good player coming in here. He's got some really good skills from a pass protection perspective, technique wise, fundamentally. I guess I would have to say I was not real surprised."

The coach had confidence in the left tackle, who was not only making his first career start, but taking his first career snap when the Tigers lined up against Illinois last weekend.

"I was real nervous out there," Fisher admitted. "I went out there the first time and you look around and you see all the people, you're like, 'All right, you're here, let's just do it.' The ball is snapped and after that first play, I was good. The nerves went away and I just played my game."

His game was, as Gary Pinkel noted, about as good as the Tigers could have hoped.

"I don't know if you can ask much more from Elvis Fisher. Here's a red shirt freshman in a really volatile, high octane environment. I guarantee he's never seen anything like it in his life," the coach said. "He had his wins and losses, but I'll tell you it really says a huge statement for him as a young player to be able to do some of the things he did."

An impressive debut, no doubt. Even more impressive considering Fisher almost was a victim of the numbers game that is major college football recruiting.

"I called (Christensen) and I said I'd like to go to the University of Missouri," Fisher recalled. "He said that's fine, there's not a spot open for you to come. They were talking about grey shirting me and I would come in a little later."

Missouri was unsure if they had room to take another offensive lineman at the time he wanted to commit. They liked his game, but the class was filling up quickly. The Tigers offered the St. Petersburg product a greyshirt opportunity, meaning he would join the team at semester as a full scholarship player and count on the numbers toward the following year's recruiting class.

"I was gonna be okay with that," Fisher said. "It kind of took me by surprise, but he called me a couple weeks later and said there was a spot opened up and we want you to come up for the summer and we want you to be here."

For Missouri, it is fortunate they found room. Without the year of experience redshirting last fall, it is unlikely the big man would have started at left tackle in the season opener this year.

"We were gonna bring him in here and we weren't sure where we were at numbers wise or signee wise so we talked to him about possibility of grey shirting if we didn't have the numbers for him," Christensen said. "Thank goodness we did."

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