Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Sean Fisher is pursuing a future in medicine. The senior linebacker from Omaha has certainly experienced it first hand over the course of his five-year career at Nebraska.
Fisher injured his shoulder in his first ever game as a Husker. Season over.
He came back from that to have a promising redshirt freshman season. As a converted high school safety, Fisher’s blend of length and speed made the possibilities seem limitless. He was a terror against Virginia Tech, wracking up six tackles, one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. On the season Fisher totaled 35 tackles.
Fall camp 2010. Fisher suffers a horrific leg break. Season over. Again.
He came back from that too, appearing in 10 games last year. But ask the coaching staff now, ask Fisher for that matter, and both will tell you he was never quite himself.
But with the leg issues behind him and pair of senior classmates lining up alongside him, Fisher is moving forward.
“He’s the healthiest he’s been since (the leg injury),” coach Bo Pelini said. “He’s had a really good fall camp. He’s going to have a really good year for us.”
If any player deserves a really good year it’s Fisher. The 35 tackles he had as a redshirt freshman are still his career high. So are the nine tackles he had in 2009 against Iowa State. The numbers mirror Fisher’s stop-and-start career, and he’s the first to say he wasn’t happy with his play last year.
But 2012 is a fresh start. It also could be the end. Fisher would likely be a sure bet to get a sixth year of eligibility via the NCAA’s medical hardship rule, but he’s yet to decide if he’ll pursue it.
“I’m taking this as my last go-around and then I’ll decide after the season how I feel about it,” Fisher said. “From that standpoint, just looking at it as my last shot, you kind of soak it in a little bit more and really appreciate it.
“At the end of the season, I’ll talk to coaches, talk to my family and my fiancé and we’ll decide from there.”
For now Fisher is relishing what could be his last fall camp and what will definitely be his last season playing alongside fellow seniors Will Compton and Alonzo Whaley. The three came in together as part of Pelini’s first class at Nebraska.
“We all play really well off each other,” Fisher said. “We all kind of know what each other’s thinking and do a good job of playing off one another, so it’s fun to be out there with guys you know are just in the same place you are from a mental standpoint, and just really grasp it.”
That familiarity has allowed the Nebraska staff to shift their focus a bit this season.
“Their whole philosophy this fall has been challenge the guys at the top and then bring the younger guys along with them,” Fisher said. “We haven’t just spent the last week and a half going over, ‘this is ‘over-cover 4, this is under-cover 4,’ which is stuff we can do in our sleep. They’ve really challenged us to understand at a deeper level why we’re doing the things we’re doing, how we fit into the whole picture.”
The mental challenge has never been a problem for Fisher. The senior business administration and pre-med major has racked up academic accolades in both the Big 12 and the Big Ten. Last year he was named a second-team Academic All-American. In July he took the MCAT and expects to receive the results of the test the week of Nebraska’s season opener.
With the weight of one of the most grueling tests an undergraduate can take off his mind, with the injury troubles finally behind him, Fisher’s had a rare opportunity to focus squarely on football this fall.
Fisher has a lot he could look back on. He chooses to look forward.
“It’s not always smooth roads for everybody,” he said. “You really have to work hard and hopefully at the end of the day it works out for you.”