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National Scholar-Athlete Award Release (PDF)
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football program can now boast of having the nation's top scholar-athlete from any sport at the NCAA Division II level for the second time in the last three years.
Former Bulldog football player Jake Visser (Coopersville), who concluded his collegiate eligibility as a standout defensive tackle for the Bulldogs last fall, has been named as the male recipient of the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (CCA) 2008-09 National "Scholar-Athlete of the Year" Award as voted by the D-II Commissioners organization.
The award was announced by Disney’s Wide World of Sports and the DII Conference Commissioners’ Association as co-sponsors of one of the nation's most prestigious honors which combines athletics and academic excellence.
"This is a wonderful honor for Jake, our program and the university as he was selected over regional winners, from all sports, from throughout the entire country," said FSU Athletics Director Tom Kirinovic. "He is a very deserving individual of this prestigious recognition."
Visser previously was hoored as the male recipient of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for the 2008-09 athletics season and was also chosen as the Midwest Region winner of the Division II award before advancing to the national ballot. He becomes the second Ferris football player in the last three years to attain the Division II CCA National "Scholar-Athlete of the Year" honor following former linebacker Mike Klobucher, who was recognized as the recipient of the same honor for the 2006-07 season.
Additionally, Visser is only the third student-athlete from a GLIAC-member school to receive this prestigious recognition in the 10-year history of the award, joining Klobucher and former Lake Superior State women's basketball player Alice Duesing.
"This is an extraordinary accomplishment for Jake, Ferris State University and the entire Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference," said GLIAC Commissioner Dell Robinson.
The National Scholar-Athlete Awards, sponsored by Disney Sports Attractions, provide the opportunity for Division II to highlight the extraordinary achievements of its student-athletes. DII CCA President and Commissioner of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Jim Naumovich said that the award winners are outstanding examples of the mission of NCAA Division II, which emphasizes providing student-athletes growth opportunities through academic achievement, athletic competition and engagement with the community. ”
The 6-2 Visser signed a priority free agent contract and took part in training camp this summer with the National Football League's (NFL) Houston Texans. A 2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Postgraduate Scholarship winner, Visser was also honored as the school's Dean Davenport "Bulldog of the Year" Award recipient for the second-straight season and chosen for membership in the National Football Foundation's (NFF) prestigious Hampshire Honor Society.
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 for the second consecutive campaign.
Visser, who was honored as an American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Daktronics All-America First Team pick, competed in the annual NCAA Division II All-Star Game, the 2009 Valero Cactus Bowl, in January in Kingsville, Texas. The 2008 GLIAC Jack McAvoy Award winner for character and leadership on and off the field, Visser claimed AFCA All-America First Team honors as a senior for the second consecutive year. He was also recognized as a GLIAC Commissioner's Award for Academic and Athletics Excellence honoree for the second time.
Visser added to his impressive list of postseason accolades by being tabbed as a first-team All-American by D2football.com and Don Hansen's Football Gazette. He was also named to the Associated Press Little All-America First Team, making him a consensus first team All-America choice by every source covering Division II football.
As a senior, Visser was also chosen as the 2008 Daktronics Super Region Three Defensive Player of the Year and among the national finalists for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award after being chosen as Super Region Three's Co-Winner of that honor. He received the most first-place votes nationally for the Upshaw Award and finished third overall in the final voting process. He also received Daktronics Super Region Three First Team laurels, making him a three-time Daktronics First Team All-Region pick.
In 2008, 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 his senior 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 AFCA 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.).
In addition to Visser, women's basketball player Anna Atkinson
of Wingate University was recognized as the Division II CCA Midwest
Region Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Click Here For National Scholar-Athlete Award Release (PDF)