As we near the end of the “Coach ’em Up” series, we preview new defensive back coaches Brandon Fisher, Jeff Fisher’s son, and Dennard Wilson.
The former was a standout linebacker at Montana, tallying 169 career tackles in 54 games (30 starts), but remained a standout in the classroom: Fisher was named to the All-District 7 academic team with a 3.9 GPA as well the as FCS Athletic Director Association’s Academic All-Star team. He was also a three-time all-league academic team selection.
Following his playing career, Fisher was a defensive assistant with the Detroit Lions in 2011 before joining the Rams in 2012 as a secondary assistant. He played a large role in the success of then-rookie Janoris Jenkins, who started all 16 games recorded an NFL rookie record three interceptions returned for touchdowns. The Rams also ranked second in allowing the fewest passing plays of 20+ yards with 36.
In 2014, Fisher contributed to another breakout season, this time from safety T.J. McDonald who finished third on the team in passes defended and tackles. Then-rookie sixth rounder E.J. Gaines started 15 games, breaking up 14 passes and intercepting another two, while Jenkins returned two interceptions for touchdowns, giving him an NFL-best six defensive touchdowns since 2012. This past season, Trumaine Johnson picked off seven passes (second most in the league) and defended another 17.
Wilson is a Maryland native who played for the hometown Terrapins, starting for three seasons and serving as a team captain from 2002-2004; he was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2004. He signed with the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2004, spending time on the practice squad before being lost for the season to injury.
Wilson returned home to coach the defensive backs at powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School from 2004-2006, returned to Maryland as a graduate assistant (2007-2008), and serving as a scout for the Bears from 2008-2011. Following that stint, he was brought on by the Rams to serve as a the defensive quality control coach from 2012-2014; the unit’s success last season is attributed to combined work of Wilson and Fisher.