Jake Visser & Erik Schumacher Both Honored As First Team Academic All-Americans

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The Ferris State University football team's defensive line was regarded as one of the nation's top units on the field prior to and throughtout the 2007 season. Now, the Bulldogs can also boast of having perhaps one of the nation's "smartest" defensive lines at any level of college football.

Academic All-Americans
Ferris State defensive linemen Erik Schumacher (left) and Jake Visser (right) have both been honored as Academic All-Americans this season

A pair of Bulldog players, junior tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville) and senior end Erik Schumacher (Lake Isabella/Beal City) were honored Thursday (Nov. 29) as 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America College Division First Team selections in an announcement made by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

The Bulldog tandem, which both previously earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV First Team recognition this year, represented one-third of the six defensive line honorees on the college division first team. In addition, they were the only players from a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) institution at any position on either the Academic All-America first or second teams.

The college division consists of all schools outside of the NCAA Division I level. Student-athletes must have reached at least sophomore status academically, maintain a 3.2 cumulative grade point average and also be a starter or key reserve for their team to be nominated for Academic All-America consideration. The voting was conducted by CoSIDA members.

Ferris was the only school at either the University (NCAA Division I) or College Division levels to have two defensive linemen named to the Academic All-America First Team unit. FSU was one of eight schools at either level to have two players at any position named to the first team. The others included Iowa and Texas in the University Division along with North Dakota, Pittsburg State (Kan.), Slippery Rock (Pa.), Thiel (Pa.) and Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) of the College Division.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the Academic All-America program, which was founded by CoSIDA in 1952 to recognize collegiate student-athletes for their outstanding achievements in the classroom and on the playing field. Over the years, the program has grown into one of the most recognized and prestigious collegiate scholar-athlete awards nationwide, honoring student-athletes from all NCAA championship sports. This season marks ESPN The Magazine's fourth year of sponsoring the Academic All-America program, which was formerly endorsed by both GTE and Verizon.

The 2007 season represents the second year in a row the Ferris defensive unit has produced a first-team Academic All-America selection as former middle linebacker Mike Klobucher claimed the same status in 2006. Schumacher and Visser also join an elite list of 24 former Ferris State student-athletes who have received either first, second or third team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors. They are among only five players in FSU football history to attain the prestigious honor with Monty Brown (1992-first team) and Jeff Fisher (1997-second team) as well as Klobucher previously attaining the national recognition. The Bulldog pair were two of 27 football student-athletes named to the first-team College Division squad this season.

This season, 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. In 34 career contests, Visser has compiled 290 tackles (154 solos) with five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and four pass deflections. He also has 38.5 tackles for loss resulting in a negative 165 yards. Visser is presently seventh on Ferris State's all-time pass sacks leaders list with 20.0 total for a negative 125 yards. He received 2007 first-team All-Northwest Region accolades by Daktronics, Inc., 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 this season's league leaders in tackles for loss, Visser also ranked sixth in total tackles (9.6 tpg.).

Visser, who was tabbed as both a 2007 Street & Smith's Division II Preseason All-America First Team selection and D2football.com Preseason All-America Second Team pick along with being named to the 2007 Lindy's College Football Preview All-Division II Preseason All-America Second Team, was a 2006 honorable mention All-America selection by both D2Football.com and Don Hansen's Football Gazette. The 2006 All-GLIAC First-Team lineman finished second among Ferris' 2006 tackles leaders with 86 stops (52 solos) as an 11-game starter. He earned team Most Valuable Player Award honors for the 2007 campaign. A history education major, Visser claimed GLIAC All-Academic Team laurels for the third time this year.

An All-GLIAC Honorable Mention selection for the second-straight year, Schumacher ranked fifth among the squad's leaders this season with 59 total tackles, which includes 32 solo stops. He had a team-leading 6.5 sacks for a loss of 35 yards. His 12.5 tackles for loss ranked second on the team this season. In addition, he had four quarterback hurries, a team-best four forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and one fumble recovery this campaign.

In his career, the senior team captain posted 156 total tackles, 28.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his 44 games at FSU. Schumacher was listed 11th (0.36 pg.) nationally in forced fumbles along with 74th in pass sacks (0.6 pg.) this season, according to the latest (Nov. 26) NCAA-II National Statistics. He ranked tied for second in forced fumbles (0.36 pg.) and tied for seventh in sacks (0.59 pg.) among the GLIAC's overall leaders this year. A four-time (2004-07) GLIAC All-Academic Team member, Schumacher was the defensive recipient of Ferris' Rich Currie EPEP (Every Player, Every Play) Award following the conclusion of the 2007 campaign. He's an accountancy major at FSU and a three-time (2005-07) FSU Dean's Academic Award honoree.

The Bulldogs' 6-5 overall record this season represented the program's eighth winning campaign in 13 years under head coach Jeff Pierce and marks the 13th time in the last 19 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action this campaign as the Bulldogs won their final two games of the season in thrilling fashion.

Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America® honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA covering all NCAA championship sports.

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