Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University football fans may
soon get to see a former Bulldog on the big screen as ex-FSU
standout Jake Visser is among a handful of players
selected for the upcoming Kurt Russell movie, "Touchback".
More than 1,200 football players from across the country tried out to be extras for the film and Visser was announced Tuesday (Aug. 10) as one of only 38 participants who made the cut.
Visser was among hundreds of hopefuls who showed up last week vying for the movie's football-player roles. 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.
Producers needed to fill the rosters for two teams, including "Team Coldwater", which is guided by Coach Hand (Russell), and "Team Cuyahoga" led by Marc Ellis. Visser will be a member of the Team Cuyahoga squad.
Filming is scheduled this upcoming week for August 13, 16 and 17
at the Coopersville High School field from 9 p.m. - 6 a.m. (ET). In
addition to the football players, extras are needed to sit in the
stands during those hours. Refreshments, prizes and entertainment
nightly are planned, according to producers.
The lower-budget independent film currently is in talks with distributors for a 2011 release.
In addition to Visser, the list also includes current Big Rapids High School football coach Mitch Cumings. Several players with ties to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) member schools are also included.
Producers made it clear that they were looking for real players with quality experience. They required players trying out to be between ages 18 and 30 and could not be seeking NCAA eligibility.
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.
Below is a list of football players chosen to appear in the film:
- Ryan McManus from Stow, OH and played at Wake Forest
- Stephen Wasil from Commerce Twp, MI and played at Grand Valley State
- Jacob McGuckin from Grand Rapids, MI and played at Grand Valley State
- Chris McKinney from Lawrenceville, GA and played at NC State and Arena football
- Timothy Balice from Kalamazoo, MI and played at Western Michigan
- Everett Stephenson from Detroit, MI and played at Wayne State
- Jeff Hachigian from Macomb, MI
- Dennis Rutka from Marne, MI and played at Coopersville High School
- Andre Benjamin from Grand Rapids, MI
- Dwayne Holmes from Van Buren Twp., MI and played at Michigan State
- Mike Sheldon from Royal Oak, MI and played at Albion College
- Matthew Carter from Allendale, MI and played at Allendale High School
- Michael Simon from Kentwood, MI and played at Grand Rapids Community College
- Jordan Havercamp from Nobleville, IN and played at DePauw
- Thomas Bissett from Jenison, MI
- Josh Lanser from Jenison, MI and played at Hope College
- John Preston from Newaygo, MI and played at Ferris State
- Mitch Cumings from Big Rapids, MI
- Adam Dekyger from Fremont, MI
- Kevin Shurlow from Lakeview, MI
- Quentin Sweat from Grand Rapids, MI
- Beau Hoffman from Chesaning, MI
- Aaron Higginbottom from Detroit, MI and played at Wayne State
- Adam Powers from Plymouth, MI and played at Kalamazoo College
- Matt Anderson from Grand Rapids, MI and played at Hope
- Bernard Faithful from Detroit, MI and played at the University of Toledo
- Jake Visser from Grand Rapids, MI, played at Coopersville High School and Ferris State
- Philepae Phillips from Grand Rapids, MI, played at Grand Rapids Community College
- Tyler Moore from Comstock Park, MI and played at Purdue
- Scott Gajos from Kalamazoo, MI and played at Western Michigan University
- Zach Nichols from Brighton, MI and played at Northern Michigan University
- Jason Kelly from Auburn, MI and played at Saginaw Valley State University
- Blake Smolen from Grand Rapids, MI and played at Grand Valley State
- Matt Flutur from Allendale, MI and played at Grand Valley State
- Ryan Sloth from Greenfield, IA and played at Iowa State University
- Daryl Graham from Detroit, MI and played at Wayne State University
- Brian Grysen from Hudsonville, MI and played at Elmhurst College
- Justin Trumble from Macomb, MI and played at Grand Valley
Note: Information found within this article is courtesy of www.woodtv.com and www.wzzm13.com.