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Braden Fiske is a transfer portal success story who absolutely crushed the combine

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By: Thomas Butler-Guerrero

Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Braden Fiske (55) gestures to his ring finger in the fourth quarter of the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. | Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“I think just the effort and the motor,” Fiske said. “I think it is something that carries on no matter what level of football you play at.”

INDIANAPOLIS – Former Michigan City pass rusher Braden Fiske is living proof that a player can enter the NCAA transfer portal and ultimately become a success story.

The Michigan City, Ind. native crushed Thursday’s workout at Lucas Oil Stadium by showcasing his athleticism. His 33.5-inch vertical jump (96th percentile all-time) and 9-foot, 9-inches broad jump (91st percentile all-time) were both the top scores among all interior defensive linemen competing at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

At 292 pounds, Fiske ran a blazing 4.78 40-yard dash (97th percentile all-time), which was the fastest official time posted by an interior defensive lineman at the combine. He scored a 9.18 Relative Athletic Score out of a possible 10.00 and continued to thrive during the on-field drills by exemplifying elite footwork on turf.

The sixth-year senior was not sure he would get an invite to compete at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Despite tremendous exposure at Florida State, who won its first 13 games of the 2023 season, Fiske dealt with internal thoughts that he might have played his last game on the gridiron. He never quit, found the veritable wall imposed on him and broke through it like the dream he had chased his entire life was waiting for him to seize on the other side.

“I was training down in Davie (Fla.),” Fiske said. “It was kind of one of those things where you felt like you were getting one but like – I know the first wave went out – I hadn’t gotten one, so I’m like ‘ah man, is there like a chance I’m not going, I don’t know’ but once it came, it was awesome. It was a dream come true situation and now I am here, it is kind of surreal.”

His draft stock took flight like a rocket ship after being named the top defensive lineman on the American team at the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The phenomenal 6-foot-3.5 defensive tackle is physical at the point of attack, bursts with exceptional quickness off the ball and is equipped with the intellect to time the snap.

“I think just the effort and the motor,” Fiske said. “I think it is something that carries on no matter what level of football you play at. If you can play with effort and you can get to the ball, that translates. The ball is the most important thing and if you are a guy who can get to the ball and create turnovers, that is crucial.”

In five seasons at Western Michigan, Fiske tallied 148 tackles, including 27.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He earned second-team All-MAC honors in 2022 and was among the top-ranked defensive lineman to enter the transfer portal in 2022. Fiske was perhaps the most impactful addition to the Seminoles defense, earning second-team All-ACC and third-team Associated Press All-American in 2023 after securing 43 tackles, including nine tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks for sixth-ranked Florida State.

Florida State’s coaching staff referred to Fiske as a “ball of knives”, who ultimately led the Seminoles to a 16-6 victory over No. 15 Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship to claim the fifth conference title in program history. The Seminoles limited the Cardinals to just 69 total yards in the first half, which is the second-fewest yards allowed in the first half in ACC championship game history.

“They see everything on film, Fiske is insane,” Former college teammate and projected first round draft pick Jared Verse told reporters on Wednesday at the Indiana Convention Center.

Fiske left it all out on the gridiron in his final college game and displayed his best performance on film in the ACC title game. Fiske exhibited explosive power and speed on each play of the first series against Louisville and led the Seminoles with a game-high nine tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. On the first play from scrimmage, Fiske tossed aside the opposing guard and cemented a brick wall to corral Louisville running back Jawhar Jordan at the line. On the very next snap, Fiske burst past Louisville’s center and surged to the backfield to secure a tackle for loss. On third-and-12, Fiske read the screen pass and raced to the far hash to chase down Louisville receiver Chris Bell and force a three-and-out.

Late in the first half, Fiske rushed outside, collapsed the pocket and sacked quarterback Jake Plummer to force Louisville to punt. He used the same stunt later in the fourth quarter to earn a pair of sacks and force a turnover on downs on Louisville’s final two possessions.

Fiske earned team captain twice during his prep career at Michigan City and led the Wolves to the program’s first sectional and regional title during his senior campaign in 2017. He mentioned several family members, teammates and coaches made the trip to Indianapolis on Thursday to support his impressive workout in front of NFL coaches and scouts.

“It is awesome,” Fiske said. “Does it matter at the end of the day? No, I still have got to go out and perform no matter what, but just having them there is awesome. You know, seeing everybody again. This is the first time being home in a little bit over a year. Yeah, I have been living it up down south, but it has been awesome to just be back and get back to your roots. Just to know everybody is going to be here to see me again is super cool.”

An accurate NFL comparison to Fiske is Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Zach Sieler, who Fiske noted was a player he modeled his technique after. Fiske mentioned he had formal interviews this week with at least six NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a herculean performance on Thursday, Fiske ensured the buzz surrounding his name continues to soar before April’s NFL Draft.

Originally posted on Stampede Blue – All Posts