JAKE VISSER CHOSEN AS GENE UPSHAW AWARD FINALIST
Senior Standout Honored As Super Region Three Co-Winner Of Top Lineman Award
Click Here For Super Region Three Voting Results PDF
The postseason accolades continue to mount for Ferris State University senior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville), who most recently has been recognized as a national finalist for the prestigious Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award after being chosen as Super Region Three's Co-Winner in the voting process.
The Gene Upshaw award is presented annually by the Manheim Touchdown Club in recognition for the top offensive or defensive lineman in Division II football. The award is named after former Texas A&I and Oakland Raiders star and Robstown, Texas, native Gene Upshaw. Upshaw served as the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association prior to his death and was the only NFL player to play in Super Bowls in three different decades along with being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Junior or senior offensive and defensive linemen from any of the 150 football playing members of the NCAA Division II are eligible to win the award which is administered by the Manheim Touchdown Club of Manheim, Pa., and is voted on by Sports Information Directors from all football playing NCAA Division II schools.
The 6-2 Visser was recognized as Super Region Three's Co-Winner of the Upshaw Award along with Grand Valley State University senior defensive tackle Dan Skuta. Both Visser and Skuta tallied 42 points in the balloting process. Visser, who led the balloting for first-place votes, received five first-place votes, five second-place votes and two for third place in totaling 42 points while Skuta garnered four first-place votes, six second-place and four for third to reach 42 points. Tabulation was based on five points for first, three points for second and one point for third. Both of the top two vote receivers will now be placed on a national ballot to be voted on for the lineman of the year honor.
A two-time (2007 & 2008) ESPN The Magazine College Division Academic All-America First Team selection, Visser capped off an outstanding career by being named among the 24 candidates for the 2008 Harlon Hill Award, which is annually presented to the top collegiate player at the Division II level. He was the only offensive or defensive lineman from across the nation to make the list. Visser attained all-conference accolades for the fourth-straight year which included first-team recognition for the third year in a row and was voted the GLIAC's Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2008 along with Skuta for the second consecutive campaign.
This season, Visser led the Bulldogs with 105 total tackles (56 solo), 16.0 tackles for loss (-71 yards) in addition to 7.5 sacks (-54 yards), two fumble recoveries, four blocked kicks and a forced fumble in 11 contests. He also notched his first career touchdown with a 34-yard interception return at Hillsdale (Nov. 1). The returning All-America pick and two-time (2007-08) team Most Valuable Player Award recipient finished the year ranked third among the GLIAC leaders in tackles for loss (1.45 pg.), third in sacks (.68 pg.) along with seventh in total tackles (9.5 tpg.).
Visser concluded his Ferris career ranked sixth on the school’s career tackles chart with 395 total stops. He also placed fourth on the FSU all-time sack leaders list with 27.5 sacks and tied for first place with seven career fumble recoveries. Prior to this season, Visser was tabbed as a consensus preseason All-America selection by numerous publications, including Lindy's College Football Preview which chose him as its Division II Preseason Defensive Player of the Year following a memorable junior campaign in which he attained All-America First Team honors both on the field and in the classroom.
As a junior in 2007, Visser earned first-team All-America recognition from D2football.com, the American Football Coaches Association and Don Hansen's Football Gazette. He was also named to both the Daktronics All-America Second Team squad and the Associated Press Little All-America Second Team. Visser claimed ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honors in addition to being one of inaugural fall recipients of the GLIAC Commissioner's Award for Athletics and Academic Excellence a year ago.
In 2007, Visser tallied the squad's second-highest tackles figure (106) and led the squad in tackles for loss with 14.5 for minus 62 yards, which ranked fifth in the conference. He also had a team-best nine quarterback hurries along with 5.5 sacks for a loss of 41 yards. The team Most Valuable Player Award recipient received 2007 first-team All-Northwest Region accolades for the second consecutive year and was tabbed as the GLIAC's Defensive Lineman of the Year after earning all-conference first team laurels for the second year in a row. Along with placing fifth among last season's league leaders in tackles for loss, Visser also ranked sixth in total tackles (9.6 tpg.).
The Bulldogs registered their fifth winning season in the last six years with a 6-5 overall record this season. It represented the program's ninth winning campaign in 14 years under head coach Jeff Pierce and marks the 14th time in the last 20 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action this campaign.