Fischer hangs on to NFL dream

March 26, 2012

Sights & Sounds from Pro Day

Kyle Fischer doesn't want it to end, but he knows deep down that the end may come sooner than he would like. For as long as he can remember, the two constants in his life have been school and football.

He finished his final class and earned his degree from Vanderbilt in December and now the former Commodore offensive lineman may be nearing or already at the end of his football career.

Transitioning to life after school can be tough, and it can become even more challenging when the activity you spent the most time doing outside of school is no longer available. For some student-athletes, the regression in the speed at which life comes at them can be a difficult adjustment, and it is one Fischer knows he may be dealing with head on in the next few months.

"It feels kind of weird because for the majority of your life you've been in school and a big part of your life you've had football," Fischer said, "and now football is kind of uncertain and with no more school, you are out in the real world, so you kind of have to figure out life as it comes your way."

The fact that the vast majority of college football players will never play again after their final college game can be a tough reality pill to swallow. Even for as successful as a player Fischer was as a four-year starter in the best football conference in the country, his chances of getting a shot at the next level are not great.

On Friday, Fischer joined seven other members of his senior class for Vanderbilt's annual Pro Day, where a host of NFL scouts were on hand to watch the Commodores' draft hopefuls take part in a number of strength and agility drills.

Scouts were primarily on hand to watch defensive backs Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson after the two had good performances at the NFL Combine, but the added attention Hayward and Richardson received was also beneficicial to someone such as Fischer.

For Fischer, this would be his best opportunity to make a name for himself as he hopes to impress NFL teams enough to become a late-round draft pick or undrafted free agent.

Knowing it may be his best and possibly only chance to catch the eye of just one NFL team, Fischer's opportunity to shine was preceded by stomach twisting nerves and a sleepless night.

"There were a lot of nerves and anticipation," Fischer said. "I woke up every hour to two hours looking at the clock, anticipating the alarm to go off (the night before)."

The added pressure of the day left Fischer feeling as though he did not perform as well as he could of following his pro day. "I felt I could have done a little better," he said. "But overall to be out here with my fellow seniors I've been working with the last 4 1/2 to 5 years was fun and something I won't forget."

Leading into Friday, he had spent countless hours preparing for Vanderbilt's Pro Day since the season ended, and now that the day has come and passed, all he can do is wait and hope to hear from interested teams leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft April 26-28.

In the meantime, Fischer will continue to work out at Vanderbilt under the guidance of Vanderbilt Strength and Conditioning Director Dwight Galt. He lifts weights and trains throughout the week with Galt, and seniors Tim Fugger, T.J. Greenstone, Udom Umoh and Larry Smith.

In between workouts, he also plans on heading home to visit family for the first time since this past summer. There is also a minor detail of wedding planning that needs to be finished. Fischer and his fiancé will be married in his hometown of Columbia, S.C., this June. And by then he will know his football fate.

Fischer has no idea what his chances are of making it at the next level, but it won't stop him from giving it everything he's got until this summer when the draft is over and all undrafted free agents would have been claimed to fill 80-man training camp rosters. Football has provided so much for him and opened so many doors to opportunities he otherwise wouldn't have had, and he has no interest in moving on until he absolutely has to.

"Football has been a big part of my life," Fischer said. "I've loved football since the first day I played it and it will be hard not to play it anymore when that day comes, but no matter what I will still have the love for it."

His football future is very cloudy, but his future outlook on life is not. When Fischer departs Vanderbilt this spring, he will be leaving with a degree in hand, and a mind free of regrets.

"I am very grateful of the opportunity I've had and the doors football has opened for me. If it wasn't for football I never would have been able to afford to come to a school like Vanderbilt and receive the education I did. And no matter what happens in football, I will know that I left everything on the field and I gave it my all."

Be sure to watch the sights and sounds captured by Brandon Barca at Vanderbilt's Pro Day.

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