Last year, senior Ray Fisher caught passes from quarterbacks Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell. This spring he is trying to intercept them.
Fisher switched from wide receiver to cornerback to help the football team’s defense, which ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in most defensive categories last year.
Fisher is one of only 14 Hoosiers with 100 career receptions and 1,000 career receiving yards, yet he said he was motivated to help the defense.
“Whatever I can do for the team, that’s what I want to do,” he said. “Every day, I’m going to go out and work hard so I can have all my teammates behind me, so they can trust me at whatever I’m doing.”
Fisher has some experience on defense from when he played defensive back at Glenville High School in Cleveland, a program coached by the father of Miami Dolphins wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
Although he has some knowledge of the position, Fisher said he has had trouble making the switch to a defensive mindset.
“It’s pretty hard,” he said. “They are throwing a lot of stuff at me. I just have to go out and play every down real hard, so I can understand the whole game.”
Despite being somewhat limited by a groin injury, Joe Palcic, co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach, said Fisher has progressed well.
“Ray (Fisher)’s done a great job,” Palcic said. “He has missed a couple practices with some injuries, but since then I’ve seen the improvement step back up.”
Palcic said Fisher can apply the skills that made him a good receiver to the cornerback position, citing his speed, quickness and timing in the air as usable qualities.
Fisher said the technical aspects of cornerback have been another challenge, but said he feels he can make up for that in other areas.
“I’m kind of rusty with my technique, but I have athletic ability,” Fisher said. “I’m able to do stuff, where instead of using technique, I can use my athletic ability with some things.”
Fisher will use his athleticism to return kickoffs and punts as well.
Sophomore Chris Adkins, who also plays cornerback, said Fisher is smoothly moving into the position.
“He’s doing a lot better,” Adkins said. “It’s always good to have playmakers on both sides of the ball. We got him from the offense, bring him over here, so he’s getting a lot better. He’s just an athlete.”
The Hoosiers have what seems to be a strong outlook for the offensive side of the ball, making many changes that IU coach Bill Lynch said fans will enjoy.
Although the offense might be improved, the defense will need to do better than it has in the past. Last season the defense ranked 11th in the Big Ten in total defense, scoring defense, opponent first downs and opponent fourth downs.
Lynch said Fisher might be what they need to help turn those numbers around.
“He’s a tough guy,” Lynch said. “He gives us a physical presence at corner. He’s a kid that likes to get in the mix, and he can be a cover guy since he has good feet. I think it’s a good move for him, and I think it’s a good move for the team.”
Although Fisher said his true calling is wide receiver, he is happy to make a switch that helps his team.
“To me, I’m a receiver at heart, but I have ability that a lot of people don’t have,” Fisher said. “I have a chance to play two positions, so I’m going to go out and play hard.”
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