We've talked a few times this series about Stu Riddle's New Zealand connection. At times this season four Kiwis could be on the field at once. At the same time, though, UB has benefited more in Riddle's early tenure from a more recent talent pool: Former Western Michigan-bound recruits.
Alec Fisher's hometown of Battle Creek is maybe 10 miles from Kalamazoo and Western. Maybe. But when Riddle came to Buffalo, Fisher followed him as part of a 14-man recruiting class that's now coming of age as a strong core for the team over the next two years.
Following a high school career that saw him earn Second Team All-Michigan honors his senior year and set the Harper Creek High School career scoring record, Fisher has steadily become a regular presence in the UB defense, seeing action in nine games as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore, starting 12 last year alongside Fox Slotemaker in the middle of the defense.
As I've said before, the UB defense noticeably improved and gelled over the course of the 2014 season, and Fisher was nothing short of outstanding in what I thought was Buffalo's best game of the year - a hard-luck 1-0 road loss to Lafayette late in the season. Waleed Cassis was forced to make a number of difficult saves in the game, but Fisher and Daniel Cramarossa closed on even more loose balls and dangerous chances that could have been goals.
Like Slotemaker, Fisher is more of a steady presence than a flashy playmaker, but that's really what you want from defenders, where flashy plays are usually a sign of a desperation recovery more than anything else. That Lafayette game ended in a loss, but it also showed the potential in the UB defense and in Fisher alone.
2015 sees a crowded lineup situation up and down the formation. Fisher's 13 appearances and 12 starts are actually the lowest of the five main defenders in 2014, and it sure seems like Nick Forrester is going to be a regular, too. Between a somewhat foggy memory of last year and not having seen any of the spring action, I'm not entirely sure how the pecking order is going to shake out, but only Cramarossa and Austin Place have more career experience with Buffalo than Fisher, so I'd be surprised if there wasn't a regular role for him.