Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 6, 2011

Coach's firing puts TC West athlete in tough spot

BY MIKE ECKERT
meckert@record-eagle.com

TRAVERSE CITY — The end of the Rich Rodriguez era on Wednesday may have been cause for celebration for some Michigan football fans.

Jake Fisher was not one of them.

The Traverse City West senior lineman verbally committed to Rodriguez and the Wolverines in the summer. He was happy to be heading to Ann Arbor and play under Rodriguez and his staff.

Now all of that has changed after Rodriguez was fired by Athletic Director David Brandon on Wednesday.

"I'd rather not have to be in this spot," Fisher said. "Michigan was the right school. Hopefully, they'll bring somebody in. I don't want to be stuck in the mud and not doing anything."

While Fisher currently remains committed to Michigan, he and Titans head Coach Tim Wooer have re-opened the recruiting process to see what is out there. They'll also be monitoring the situation in Ann Arbor to see who will be the next Wolverines coach.

"It'll be just like it was last spring," Wooer said. "We'll have everybody you can probably imagine back in here recruiting Jake and trying to hop on the Jake Fisher bandwagon over the next few weeks. It's going to be a busy time."

National signing day is Feb. 2.

"The nice thing with the NCAA rules, I told him to look at this as a vacation now," Wooer said. "He can fly to Oregon. He can fly out to Penn State, go on an official visit and meet JoePa (Joe Paterno). Maybe it's a bad situation, but we can make something good out of it. We can look at a few more schools and see what's out there."

Yes, Oregon. While the Ducks are getting set for Auburn in the BCS national championship game, they've also shown interest in Fisher.

"They have a few scholarships left for emergency situations or unique situations," Wooer said. "I just got a call from Coach (Steve) Greatwood. They're out in Arizona preparing for the national championship. He loved the highlight video and said, 'I will be in Traverse City next week, if not the next week after. But we are very interested in Jake.'"

Fisher was a first-team All-State lineman this fall, though primarily for his role on defense. Michigan had recruited him to be an offensive tackle.

"It still comes back to Jake being 6-foot-7, he's 280 pounds now, and he ran a sub-5 (seconds) flat 40," Wooer said. "His films are good. I've said all along this kid has incredible upside. He's going to be 6-7, 310 in no time. That's an NFL-sized lineman. He's athletic, he dunks and he can run. When he had an early commitment to Michigan, that speaks volumes."

College coaches backed off when Fisher committed to Michigan over the summer. But Wooer and Fisher have re-opened communication.

"The tough thing was we only visited three schools," Wooer said. "We went to Cincinnati, Michigan State and Michigan. Jake was happy with what he had, so we didn't pursue it any further. Now we have 30 days to start the recruiting process all over. But fortunately with the way technology is, we've been able to send out recruiting videos and we've had immediate response."

While Fisher's first choices were fairly close to home, he said he's open to playing across the country.

"I'm open to anything," Fisher said. "Whatever is the best fit. I want to feel welcome there and feel like I fit in. That's pretty much it. That's what I'm looking for."

Rodriguez was let go after going 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan. But Fisher was excited to join Rodriguez and help the program get back on track.

"I liked the home atmosphere," Fisher said. "(Offensive Line Coach Greg) Frey was a big part of it. I liked his philosophies and the way he coached."

"He loves Michigan," Wooer said. "He had a great relationship with Coach Frey and Coach Rodriguez. That still doesn't mean he doesn't love Michigan. I think it depends on what type of coaching staff they bring in and what kind of relationship they can build in two to three weeks."

And if Rodriguez lands on his feet quickly, Wooer said that could be an option for Fisher as well.

"I'd say there are probably about six schools," Wooer said. "Coach Rodriguez's new school (if he is hired) would be one of them."

While Fisher didn't want to have to re-visit the recruiting process, he's also handicapped by the short amount of time left before national signing day.

"I wish it was a little bit longer, so you could put yourself out there and meet more people," Fisher said. "Schools might not have the scholarships you want. So I'll have to wait and see."