Bloomington – Ray Fisher has offered his services to IU cornerbacks coach Joe Palcic before.
A talented two-player at the prep level, Fisher has often suggested in jest that he could play in the defensive backfield as well as wide receiver. But as the team’s injuries and losses piled up late last season, Fisher became a little more serious about helping out on the opposite side of the ball.
“Against Penn State, I was like, ‘coach, you can use me,’” Fisher said. “(Palcic) said maybe, but we didn’t make the change because we had some younger corners.”
But as the team turns the page on a disappointing 2008 season and turns its attention to 2009, the staff has decided Fisher was right after all. Fisher once again went to the staff over the winter and suggested the move, and they’ve obliged. As spring practice opened Tuesday afternoon on a beautiful 70 degree day at Memorial Stadium, Fisher donned the defense’s red jersey and worked with the No. 1 defensive unit opposite Chris Adkins.
“I kind of put it out there to coach because we needed help on defense, and I thought I could help the team,” Fisher said.
In an effort to ready himself for the new position, the 5’9” Fisher has added 15 pounds to his frame and is now up to 185 pounds. While he knows he’s got plenty of rust to get rid of, he knows he has plenty of time to do that before the fall.
“We’ve got 15 practices, and I’m going to go out and do my best,” Fisher said. “As practice goes on, I can see film and correct what I’m doing.”
When Fisher watches his opening day practice on film, he’ll often be seeing himself going up against his former quarterback, Kellen Lewis. Like Fisher, Lewis is at a new position as well this spring as he’s made the move to wide receiver.
“I came out of the (locker room) door and (Fisher) said, ‘you look great in the white jersey instead of the black jersey (that quarterbacks wear),” Lewis said. “And I said, ‘you look terrible in red.’”
All joking aside, Lewis said he’s focused on making the most out of his position switch as well. Lewis spent much of his opening day working at an inside receiver position and continued to show off the big-play abilities that has made him such a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
IU Coach Bill Lynch, meanwhile, said he’s been pleased with how both players have embraced the moves as they head into their senior seasons.
“If you take an established senior who’s played a lot of football and try to make a drastic move against their will, it’s not going to work,” Lynch said. “It’s not going to work on the field, it’s not going to work in the locker room. But when you have two guys like that, which in both cases they were open and even for the moves…the fact they’re positive about it makes it work.”
Like Fisher, Lewis knows there are some fundamentals of the position that he’ll need to master during the spring as well as in the summer, but he’s determined to make sure that the position switches lead to better product on the football field next fall.
“If we’re going to make these position changes, let’s make it work,” Lewis said. “Let’s not say we switched him to wide receiver for us to go 3-9 again this year.”
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