When Travis Fisher first arrived at Nebraska, his defensive backs room was deep but unmacthed. He did his best in the 2018 class to fill gaps, but it was a transition year. It resulted in two starters—Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams—and an up-and-comer in Braxton Clark, but it also resulted in some departures.
By the following class, Fisher hit his groove. The 2019 class of Myles Farmer, Javin Wright, Quinton Newsome and Noa Pola-Gates was highly-touted. Ronald Delancy, Jaiden Francois, Henry Gray and Tamon Lynum from the 2020 class all have potential to make an impact at Nebraska. That added depth was key, and it also meant more of his room was on the same page.
“It [felt] like I have two guys in the room before and now I have 20 because they are all on the same page,” Fisher said Monday. “When I speak to one, I speak to all and all of them listen.”
As spring football gets underway, buzz is starting to build about the potential of Nebraska’s 2019 recruiting class. That group mostly redshirted last season, giving many a chance to develop behind the scenes.
Fisher’s players were no exception. Three of the four—Javin Wright, Noa Pola-Gates and Myles Farmer—used a redshirt in 2019. Quinton Newsome did not.
“Really, you never want to redshirt a guy, especially guys with that type of talent,” Fisher said. “It was also about the maturity level of the guys that were here before. Marquel Dismuke matured so much over the couple years I’ve been here. Just having Marquel flip the page and become one of leaders in the room, I was able to play him a lot more last year and let those younger guys grow. I had to cross my fingers a little bit with guys getting hurt or banged up.
“Did I want to play Myles Farmer? Yeah, I sure did, but just trying to make it game-to-game it was tough. I had to move [Dicaprio] Bootle at safety. That’s why I did that. At any given time, I might put guys at different positions. That’s the way we practice. I didn’t have to pull a guy’s redshirt because that’s the way we practice.”
Fisher had a veteran group in 2019 that he could lean on. This season is much of the same with everyone who was a starter returning. And if it was tough for Fisher to hold his young players back in 2019, it will be even harder in 2020.
In particular, Farmer is a name that continues to come up as a player on the rise. Fisher considers him one of the top guys on the team, but that doesn’t mean the Huskers can just toss him out on the field.
“So a guy like that you really want to make sure he has everything he needs before he touches the field,” Fisher said. “If you are struggling with this or that or weight, you don’t just want to throw a guy out there just because it’s Myles Farmer. You want to make sure he’s ready. Those guys got ready in time but at the same time it’s all about the room. It’s not about that one person. It’s all about the room.”
The praise for Farmer has become consistent behind the scenes and now in public. Fisher is not one to heap praise if it isn’t deserved, but he sees a lot in Farmer. From his ability to run to how physical he is, he’s the whole package. That goes beyond what you see on the field.
“He’s great to have in the room,” Fisher said. “Ever since he committed he’s been all about this place. He’s still the same way. I told you guys before, he and Quinton [Newsome] have great families. They make sure to come to games and are very supportive. Everything about those kids is just awesome. He does it the right way off the field. He’s in the classroom doing what he is supposed to be doing. I’m very happy with Myles and Quinton, [and] a lot of those guys.”
The top thing Fisher looks for in a player taking the next step on the field? How they are handling business outside the football facility. It’s just as much about what players do in the classroom as it is what they do on the field.
From the sound of things, Fisher feels good about a number of players making an impact in 2020. It might mean he has some tough decisions ahead about who will play and how much, but that’s not a bad problem to have.