We WSU fans love our fabled “diamonds in the rough.” We adore talking about how Bill Doba had to drive 56 miles on a dirt road to to find Will Derting somewhere in the Okanogan wilderness. We’re proud of the fact that Luke Falk, who has led the Cougs to 17 wins the last two seasons while obliterating our record books, began as a walk-on. Because, as you know, WSU just has to do more with less.
Given the preceding, you might want to start getting excited for Rodrick Fisher.
Fisher recently committed to WSU out of East Valley in Spokane. He’s a wide receiver who is unrated by the major recruiting services. (Well, Scout gives him two stars, but they’ll just throw that on guys they haven’t evaluated.)
He’s not unrated because he’s not athletic. Fisher has prototypical receiver size ay 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. He just finished a track season in which he posted the fastest non-wind-aided 100-meter time in the state of Washington: 10.46 seconds. He also posted the state’s fastest 200-meter time, which was a tenth of a second faster than any wind-aided mark and three-quarters of a second faster than the closest non-wind-aided time. He won the 2A state title in both events.
He’s not unrated because he can’t play football. Fisher is coming off a football season in which he caught 49 passes and took nine of them to the house.
He’s unrated simply because he’s a senior who isn’t going to graduate this month. And recruiting services don’t bother with players they’re certain won’t qualify for college entry in the fall.
Of course, that’s where the story is — Fisher is living out The Blind Side 2, having been homeless and nearly dropping out of school completely before moving in with his high school football coach, Adam Fisher, whose family eventually adopted him. (Rodrick’s given last name was Jackson.) They’ve worked together to get him back on the right track, and he’s made up enough ground to where college athletics are now an option, albeit a little bit delayed: The plan is to wrap up his high school credits in the fall and enroll at WSU midyear.
He made enough progress this year, though, that WSU, Utah and Boise State all came calling with scholarship offers. But it was WSU that was on him the earliest and the most earnestly ($), and the combination of that and Pullman’s proximity to his new family made the Cougars his choice.
Here’s what’s incredible about Fisher from an athletics standpoint: He’s very likely just barely scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.
After getting his life sorted out, Fisher ran track in 2015 without really any training at all. First meet, 100-meters: 11.68 seconds. Last meet: 11.02. (Before his season ended because of an injury.) And now, a year later, he’s down to 10.46? That is really fast, and that is a really massive improvement in one year.
Here’s a little context for you: Some of you who are my age might remember Ja’Warren Hooker, the speedster from Ellensburg who played wide receiver and ran track at the University of Washington. He set the state high school record at 10.27. Track nerds will tell you that two tenths of a seconds is a lot, but still — Fisher is kinda sorta in that ballpark.
A little more context: Isaiah Brandt-Sims plays football and runs track for Stanford. He’s graduated from Wenatchee in 2014. His best non-wind-aided time as a high school runner? 10.48. Fisher’s already there after just one year of dedication to athletics. Even better: Brandt-Sims is 5-10 and 175 pounds, while Fisher is 6-2 and 200 — with a frame that sure looks like it can easily add some more weight.
Oh, and by the way: The fastest outdoor non-wind-aided 100-meter time by a WSU runner in 2017? 10.41, by Ja’Maun Charles. The fastest time by a non-Charles runner? Zach Smith’s 10.67. Fisher would be the second fastest 100-meter runner at WSU right now.
And that’s where you start to get really excited for Fisher as a football player. If you watch his football video above, you can see just how raw he is; his movements lack the fluidity you see in more refined prospects, which I think makes him play a little slower than he actually is. Personally, I didn’t find his speed all that impressive just by watching the film, but that was before I knew what his track times were. Now that I know that? I’m excited for what he’s capable of once he gains some more experience and gets some high level coaching.
Additionally, he might get one more season of high school football; that’s up to the WIAA, though, which will need to grant him a waiver.
There’s no doubt that Fisher is raw and that it’s awfully hard to know exactly how he’ll develop. But WSU just doesn’t land a lot of athletes like Fisher. If Mike Leach and his staff can do what they’ve proven they’re awfully good at — with a kid whose improved track times suggest is very coachable, and who is going to get the benefit of an extra spring’s worth of instruction before the clock starts ticking on his eligibility — we just might end up looking back at Fisher as one of the gems of the 2018 class.