James Fisher may be the most unknown player to hold a starting position job for the North Dakota State football team.
If his name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s alright because he is the lone long snapper on the team.
“Being the only long snapper, a lot of people like to overlook that position,” Fisher said. “It’s just kind of an expected (job), so what comes with that is you don’t get looked at too much unless you really mess up.”
Fisher is a redshirt freshman from Bloomington, Minn., majoring in business, which was a major reason he came to NDSU.
“I had the opportunity to come here and long snap,” Fisher said. “And also, the business program at NDSU is very highly rated and that was a big thing for me.”
This past summer, NDSU brought in another long snapper from Nebraska to give competition to Fisher. The two of them had a battle for the No. 1 position.
Iowa State was the first game Fisher started this season as long snapper and the game was by far his best memory of his young NDSU career.
“The first snap (of my career), I remember my legs were shaking and it was on my mind,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t mess up in front of 52,000 people.”
He played quarterback and linebacker in high school but was recruited by NDSU to be the long snapper.
“We ask (our) snapper to do something a little different in coverage than other (teams) do,” Bison offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tim Polasek, said. “It’s not like he’s a free tackler. He’s got a job to do and he does it pretty well.”
Fisher said the long snapper position is complicated because of how technical and focused one has to be.
“(My) hands have to be placed a certain way on the ball,” Fisher said. “It’s kind of like you are going to throw it and then you have to guide your hand and throw it back between your legs… It (takes) a lot of repetition to get it right.”
Polasek said Fisher has a few elements to work on to become the NFL player he dreams to be.
“College game, you don’t have to snap and get your head up,” Polasek said, “but in the pro game you have to snap the ball and then get your head up to block the player in front of you, and that’s something James will have to work on.”
Fisher looks up to current Minnesota Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004.
“I would absolutely love the opportunity to get invited to an (NFL) camp,” Fisher said. “This is just my first year of four. (I have) got a long ways to go and hopefully get a lot better.”
In theory, practice time would be a cakewalk for the only long snapper on the team.
Because Polasek is always trying to make him the best player he can be, that’s not the case.
“He encourages me a lot,” Fisher said. “Being the only long snapper, I’m out there for all the punt reps and all the scout punt reps as well. He watches the snaps and makes sure I’m on point day in and day out.”
When Fisher was younger, he never dreamed about becoming the long snapper for the Bison. He didn’t even know the school existed until his high school years.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” Fisher said. “It’s such a great team and community to be a part of.”
Now he’s just the long snapper that comes in during the game every once in awhile to show off his abilities, but he takes nothing for granted.
“He’s a joy to be around,” Polasek said. “I really do appreciate his demeanor and his effort level.”