Central Michigan University standout offensive tackle Eric Fisher held his pro day in Mount Pleasant yesterday, and, to no one’s surprise, continued to impress NFL scouts. Fisher flew under the radar most of his collegiate career, but after a great senior season and a dominant Senior Bowl week, he has risen to be considered a consensus top-five prospect and has even been ranked number one on some Big Boards.
Which all got me thinking…
How many CMU football players have been drafted in the first round? What about basketball players? Are there any all-stars or champions? How about just naming 10 CMU athletes? Can you do it? I’ll give you 30 seconds.
[Easy-jazz elevator music being played]
Kind of hard, isn’t it? Fortunately, I am a moderately proud Chippewa alumnus and can shed a little light on this. Below is a list of the top-five greatest CMU athletes of all-time. The criterion is based off their college and professional career.
#5 – Ray Bentley
Ray Bentley was your classic old school, hit you in the mouth, eyes just a little too close together middle linebacker at CMU. He was a part of the MAC championship team in 1980, set school records for single-season tackles, career tackles and was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1982. He went on to play professionally with the USFL, and then with NFL for 10 seasons, coming up just short in two Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. And he’s also carved himself out a nice little broadcast career as color man for ESPN. I’m sure Scott Norwood and him are still great friends.
#4 – Dan Majerle
“Thunder” Dan Majerle was known for his thunderous dunks early in his playing career at CMU, but transformed himself into a three-point specialist with his 6’6” frame and high-release jump shot. Majerle carved out a very nice 14-year NBA career with the Suns, Cavaliers and Heat, being named an All-Star three times and earning second-team All-Defense twice. If you don’t believe me, check out this crudely edited highlight tape featuring Celine Dion’s “Love Can Move Mountains.” as the background music. I just hope Charles Barkley didn’t make fun of him too much.
#3 – Eric Fisher
I know I said I’m weighing professional careers into this equation, and he hasn’t proved anything in the League yet, but there has never been a CMU player remotely as highly touted as Eric Fisher. At 6’7”, 305 pounds, he’s a prototypical left tackle who could become a perennial Pro Bowler for years to come. He’s only been playing on the offensive line since his senior year at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (2008), and CMU coach Dan Enos predicts his best years are well ahead of him because of his gross improvement from year-to-year, including his rapid rise at the 2013 Senior Bowl. As mentioned, Fisher could be taken with the first overall pick in the draft – he has a private workout scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs. Considering Byron Leftwich was the highest drafted MAC player ever at number seven in 2000, Fisher has a very good shot to beat that feat. (Oh great, I just jinxed Fisher by putting him in the same sentence as Byron Leftwich.)
#2 – Dan Roundfield
As a senior, “Dr. Rounds” averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds a game in 1975, leading CMU to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance and earning MAC Player of the Year Honors. He was drafted in 1975 by the Indiana Pacers of the ABA, and the three-time NBA All-Star’s career seemed to blossom as they moved to the NBA in 1976. As an undersized center for the Pacers, Hawks, Pistons and Bullets, Roundfield earned a reputation as a tenacious rebounder and defender – making five All-NBA Defense teams and averaging double-doubles in six consecutive seasons from 1977-1983.
#1 – Joe Staley
The player that the aforementioned Eric Fisher is being compared to, Joe Staley is the franchise left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. Like Fisher, Staley didn’t start playing offensive line until his sophomore season in 2004 after being recruited as a tight end. But his size and measurables (most notably, an unofficial 4.70 40 yard dash), shot him up draft boards where he was selected 28th overall. He’s already been named first-team All-Pro twice and a Pro Bowler twice in just six seasons, and was just three yards short of winning his first Super Bowl against the Ravens – and there might not be a more athletic tackle in the League. The Niners signed Staley to an extension in 2009 to anchor the team’s offensive line until 2017. Staley could end up having a Hall of Fame career in San Francisco, so despite what he said about the Detroit Lions, he tops the list as the best CMU athlete of all-time.
Cullen Jenkins (football), Chris Kaman (basketball), Dan LeFevour (football), Tom Tresh (baseball), Dan Bazuin (football), JJ Watt* (football), Antonio Brown (football)
*Graduated from University of Wisconsin (Couldn't have tried him out at defensive end Butch Jones?!)