Rugby’s loss was American Football’s gain this week, as former age-grade standout Tyrese Johnson-Fisher announced that he would be trading in his boots for cleats, as he made his intention to play football clear.
I'm making a move! Going to be swapping from Rugby, to American Football. I'm really excited to start this journey… thanks rugby for everything ?? #believeinyourself #thewaitisover pic.twitter.com/eH4Zss4a6B
— TyreseJohnson-Fisher (@tj_athlete) December 5, 2017
Johnson-Fisher will head to the United States in January to take part in the Under Armour All-America event, a football camp which brings together the best high school football players in the US and pits them against one another, as well as allowing them to receive coaching from prestigious figures within the game.
The Oakham School student shot to recognition a few years ago, when videos of him scoring tries with ease in the NatWest Schools Cup went viral. It seemed at the time that Johnson-Fisher would have a bright future in either rugby or athletics, but it seems as if he will marry the two and take his dynamic physical talents to the football field.
The level of athleticism in the National Football League (NFL), the pinnacle of the sport, is of a remarkably high standard and it is understandable why a rugby player as physically-gifted as Johnson-Fisher would want to try his luck in the sport.
As a running back, the position that Johnson-Fisher hopes to play, his speed and power will help him get away from defenders and break tackles and by committing early to football and going the college route, he has given himself as much time as possible to acclimatise to the sport.
Team GB Olympian Lawrence Okoye and England Rugby League star Tom Burgess have both tried to crack the NFL without playing at the collegiate level and struggled to make an impact as a result. Johnson-Fisher, who has yet to declare for a college, will hope to follow in the footsteps of several other British-born players who went the college route and have been able to make careers for themselves in the league.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor both moved to the US as minors and were lucky enough to play high school football before committing to college, whilst Denver Broncos offensive tackle Menelik Watson moved to the US to play basketball at college, before switching to football and being drafted by the Oakland Raiders.
Another Brit to be drafted by the Oakland Raiders is current Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Jack Crawford who, like Johnson-Fisher, played rugby in his teens when he was growing up in the UK.
Ajayi, Crawford, Eluemunor and Watson have all carved out successful careers for themselves in the NFL and it is they who Johnson-Fisher will seek to emulate when he heads stateside next year and begins his collegiate career.
First up for the young man will be the UA All-America game on January 4th in Orlando, where he will come under the tutelage of either Steve Mariucci or Herm Edwards, both of whom are former NFL head coaches.
From there, he will decide on which college, from those who have offered him scholarships, he wants to attend and hopefully embark on a career that will see him drafted to the NFL and become the latest Brit to make waves in the competition.
With a notable background in rugby, albeit at school level, there will certainly be plenty of interest from fans of the 15-man code in Johnson-Fisher’s upcoming journey.