Given the talent and experience in the Colorado secondary last season, playing time was scarce for Nick Fisher.
As a true sophomore, he really only got one opportunity to prove himself.
In a critical late-season game against Washington State at Folsom Field, Ryan Moeller went out with an injury after just a few plays. Another safety, Afolabi Laguda, was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.
Fisher stepped in and was so good that he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the week.
While Fisher went back to the bench the rest of the season, the confidence he gained from that game is still intact as he eyes a bigger role next season.
"Any time you can get in a game — a Pac-12 game, Division I — and make some plays, obviously it's going to boost your confidence and make you feel like you belong there and that you can play there," Fisher said last week as the Buffs wrapped up spring drills.
Led by three seniors who are projected as NFL draft picks this spring, the Buffs had one of the top pass defenses in the country last year. Having talent such as Fisher on the roster this year gives the Buffs hope they can continue to be solid against the pass.
"We had that great talent that left, but it's not like we don't have talent in the younger guys," Fisher said. "We just need those younger guys to step up. We obviously have guys that have gotten full games in, so I think we're going to be just fine."
A true junior, Fisher came to CU as a cornerback in 2015, but now looks like a top candidate to start at free safety.
"I got switched my sophomore year to safety and I absolutely love it," Fisher said. "It's something I embraced and I just fell in love with the position."
Knowing the opportunity in front of him, Fisher has stepped up this offseason. Physically, he looks as impressive as anyone on the roster, and he's been working on his mental game by leaning on veterans, such as Laguda and Moeller, who are seniors.
"Just watching film and getting with some of those guys that have actually been in there and doing their thing throughout the whole season," he said. "I'm just learning what they're doing and trying to implement that for me every day.
"Watching film has been a great thing for me; just understanding formations, getting in the playbook. It's made everything slow down out here for me."
Fisher also made a good impression on his new position coach, ShaDon Brown, who was hired to coach the secondary this offseason.
"He's doing a great job; he's a student of the game," Brown said during spring drills. "He comes in and watches film extra. He really cares about his play and he's really conscientious about how he plays. I feel good about him and I think we have some talented guys back there."
Week of service
CU players spent this week giving back to the community in their "week of service."
According to a press release from CU, players donated time at two community food banks, took three separate visits to elementary schools and two visits to senior living facilities and volunteered with a family group that "focuses on easing the burdens of life's day-to-day obligations."
Players also wrote a total of 365 "thank you" notes to donors.
"It's always important to give back to the community because we were them when we were younger," said senior George Frazier, a two-time team captain. "It is good for (the kids) to see people where they are coming from to make it and just to kind of hear from another person who is not an adult, as a college athlete in their eyes, to hear about how good school is."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.