During the first three years of his career at Colorado, Nick Fisher didn't play as much as he would have liked.

He did, however, pay attention to those playing ahead of him, soaking in the lessons taught by Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Afolabi Laguda.

"I think I've been behind a lot of good guys, all in the NFL right now," Fisher said. "I've learned a lot from Ted, I learned a lot from Fo. When I first got here I played corner and nickel and I learned a lot from Chido.

"Everything they instilled in me, I still try to keep that going, as far as work ethic, film, and just the demeanor out on the field. They taught me a lot."

Now a senior, Fisher is poised to play a starring role on the Buffaloes' defense. He's expected to start at safety, where he hopes to not only make plays, but lead the Buffs on and off the field as one of seven captains.

"Anytime that your peers vote you a captain, I think it should be taken seriously," Fisher said. "To be seen as a leader by them meant a lot to me."

To Fisher, being a leader means building up his teammates and emphasizing camaraderie.

"That's one of the big things I wanted to make sure that I implemented this year was the bond," Fisher said. "We have a good bond team-wide."

That bond, Fisher said, is strengthened by being positive as a leader. He's not the type that's going to yell at his teammates, he said.


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"I try to bring the guys to the side coach them up, and I feel like that's been better for them," he said. "It helps them with their confidence because once the confidence goes in any player, things start to go south."

Fishers' confidence took a hit early in his career.

Coming out of Great Oak High School in Temecula, Calif., Fisher expected to play cornerback for the Buffs. That's what he played in high school and it's what he played during his first season with the Buffs. In the spring of 2016, that changed.

"(Coaches) told me, 'Nick you're going to move to safety,' and my whole world fell apart," he said. "I thought I was a corner and thought, 'Man, I'm not a safety.' I was just going against the grain and didn't want to trust the coaching.

"When you come in as a freshman you come in at your position, you think that's all you're going to do. You don't know that maybe if you know different positions, that's going to be better for you in the long run."

Fisher played sparingly as a backup safety in 2016, but got a chance during a late-season game against No. 20 Washington State. After Laguda was ejected for targeting and Ryan Moeller left with an injury, Fisher played the bulk of the final three quarters and was so good he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the week after the 38-24 win.

"After Washington State, I was like, 'Man I could maybe do something,'" he said. "I stated believing in myself and it was a big confidence booster."

Finally, Fisher embraced his new role at safety.

"Once that finally clicks and once you start making plays, it's like, 'I could get used to this,'" he said. "Come to find out, I'm a way better safety than I would have been a corner here."

After the 2016 season, Fisher adopted the film study habits of Thompson, Awuzie and other veterans.

A preseason ankle injury limited him last year, but he still wound up having his best season. As the top backup at safety, he recorded a career-high 29 tackles and snagged his first interception, taking it 100 yards for a touchdown against California.

Fisher's career has given him a few more obstacles than he expected, but those ups and downs have prepared him for what he hopes is a great finish to his career.

He's excited to play next to fellow senior Evan Worthington and with a talented group of cornerbacks. Led by Fisher, it's a group that's not only talented, but developing the type of bond that he felt in 2016.

"All the (defensive backs) hang out together," he said. "I think that's a big thing, so when we line up it's more fun now.

"I'm very excited to see what that brings out of us, because I do believe once that bond is there ... that's what helped me in that Washington State game. When that bond is there, you just go to another level, without even knowing."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33