Sept. 17, 2010
LOGAN, Utah -
By Travis Hansen / USU Athletic Media Relations
Learning a new system can be tough. When you add adapting single-digit and even negative temperatures, it gets even more difficult. Junior college transfers Jeff Fischer and Daniel Gurrola have made that transition and now know what is takes to succeed at this level.
Gurrola, a senior and one of Utah State's starting defensive tackles, played for Glendale Community College in Arizona, where it is known to be warm most of the year.
"Coming from 116 degrees one day, and showing up in Logan and having 85 degrees, it definitely felt a lot better," Gurrola said. "When it started to get into the single-digits and the negatives, every day was the coldest day of my life."
As an athlete changing climates can slow your athletic progress, unless you prepare for it physically and mentally. "You have to stay warm and always be moving around," said Fischer, a senior back-up quarterback. "It is not too difficult, just more of a mind game. Get your mind strong and you will be fine."
Fischer and Gurrola attribute their transitional success here at Utah State from learning the skills and speed at their junior colleges. "A lot of my former coaches have been around Division I athletes and Division I programs. So I got an inside scoop of what to expect at this level, the intensity and the competitiveness," Gurrola said.
Fischer had similar thoughts when he said, "Playing at that level, that speed and size just made it a lot easier to transition for me when I got here."
Utah State head coach Gary Andersen explained why Fischer was brought here to play for USU. "He was brought here to understand that he had to come compete for a job with Diondre (Borel) early, and he didn't win that job. He has wrapped his arms around that responsibility of being a back-up quarterback and done a tremendous job."
One of Fischer's key attributes is his leadership.
Andersen went on to say, "At times he is almost a mentor and passing coach on the field. Off the field he sets a great example for the younger kids in the program."
Fischer, who injured his collarbone during preseason camp, is not one to brag of his leadership skills. "My personal goal right now is to just get healthy," Fischer said. "Everyday I am just trying to get better, to make Diondre better, to make this team better. The more I push him, the more I strive to get better for myself. To get him better, helps this team."
Gurrola, has also impressed Andersen and the Aggies' staff with his competitiveness.
"Danny is a physical, tough kid and he makes plays. That is what we are looking for out of the defensive tackles. He has helped us solidify that group by being a great leader," Andersen said. "He is a kid that has come to Logan and fallen in love with Logan and Cache Valley. He will get his degree in probably four semesters coming from a junior college. He is a tremendous young man."
Coming in as a junior, Gurrola had time to sit down with coaches and learn his responsibilities. "The biggest part was just learning the defense and how I could play a big role into it," Gurrola said. Learning the defense and his role is turning into success for him and his teammates.
However, success is not always easy, and it often comes from focusing on the small steps rather than the large picture. "My biggest goal is to win every play until I am done playing football," Gurrola said. "I want to win. I am a competitor and I hate to lose."
Of course both seniors have dreams and goals for the USU football team as well. Fischer and Gurrola both mentioned that they would like to win a WAC Championship and a bowl game, a feat that is large but not insurmountable. In fact, the football program has been evolving and doing everything it can to bring winning back to Logan. When asked what came to mind when he heard the words, `Utah State Football,' Fischer said, "No quit. We are mentally strong and we don't quit in anything we do. We finish everything."
Fischer and Gurrola exemplify the benefits of bringing in junior college transfers who can adapt to both the football team and their community surroundings, and help the Utah State football team reach its goals and expectations.
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