FSU Alum Visser Takes Part In Movie Tryout

Former Bulldog Jake Visser (right) talks with sports coordinator Mark Ellis (left) at tryouts for the movie "Touchback" (Photo courtesy of Joel Hawksley - MLive.com)
Former Bulldog Jake Visser (right) talks with sports coordinator Mark Ellis (left) at tryouts for the movie "Touchback" (Photo courtesy of Joel Hawksley - MLive.com)

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Big Rapids, Mich. - Former Ferris State University All-America football standout Jake Visser took part in his latest gridiron tryout on Wednesday, although this one was a little different.

Visser was among hundreds of hopefuls who showed up Wednesday vying for 60 football-player roles in the upcoming Kurt Russell movie, "Touchback". The tryout took place at the Coopersville (Mich.) High School football field for the movie, which is shooting in both the Coopersville and Grand Rapids areas. 

The production is about a man who attempts suicide and wakes up in the past to relive his high school football stardom, which previously ended when he was seriously injured.

The movie features prominent actor Kurt Russell as the head coach.  It also includes Brian Presley as the football player and Melanie Lynskey as his wife.  Former Oscar nominee Christine Lahti has been cast as Presley's mother.

According to the Grand Rapids Press, Visser was pulled aside and spoke with Mark Ellis, who directed the tryout, about a potential speaking role.  Ellis is an athletic coordinator who previously worked on the popular movie, "We Are Marshall".

Tryouts were slated to continue Thursday morning for the movie, which is a lower-budget independent film currently in talks with distributors for a 2011 release.

Potential actors were tested in three skill areas, including two agility drills and the 40-yard dash to measure their three-point stance, explosiveness and speed.  Those advancing in the process will receive $75 per day for training and $125 per day for shooting while being exhausted from the process.

The movie plans to shoot a football game at the Coopersville field on Aug. 12 with Russell and 2,000 extras.

Visser wrapped up a stellar collegiate playing career at Ferris State in the fall of 2008 and was honored as the 2008-09 National "Scholar-Athlete of the Year" by the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (CCA).

A Coopersville native, the 6-2 Visser signed a priority free agent contract and took part in training camp last summer with the National Football League's (NFL) Houston Texans. The 2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Postgraduate Scholarship winner was also honored as FSU'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 during his final campaign.  He was a three-time All-GLIAC honoree and earned both first team All-America and Academic All-America plaudits during his FSU playing career.

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 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.

Note: Information found within this article is courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press (MLive.com) and writers Kaitlin Shawgo along with John Serba. Photo is courtesy of Joel Hawksley and taken from www.grpress.com.