Ferris State Senior Adds To Impressive List Of Postseason Honors

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Ferris State University senior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville) has received yet another honor by being chosen as one of the 2008 fall recipients of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Commissioner's Award for Academic and Athletics Excellence in an announcement made by the league office.

GLIAC Commissioner's Award Logo
Jake Visser
Ferris State's Jake Visser was honored as a GLIAC Commissioner's Award recipient
The awards, sponsored by Meijer, Incorporated, will be presented after the fall, winter, and spring athletics seasons to six male and six female student-athletes that excel both in the classroom and on the fields of play. The awards were announced in conjunction with the release of the GLIAC Fall All-Academic Teams in which 585 student-athletes were honored for their efforts.

Besides Visser, the other male student-athletes honored included Nick Bellanco (Ashland), Alex Gilde (Grand Valley State), Chris Hammer (Grand Valley State), Adi Vlad (Tiffin) and Keith White (Michigan Tech). The six female student-athletes included Stephanie Booms (Hillsdale), Kylen Cieslak (Northwood), Jen Jung (Michigan Tech), Kim Oberski (Saginaw Valley State), Natalja Stanski (Grand Valley State) and Katy Tafler (Grand Valley State). Visser along with Hammer and Tafler are the first two-time recipients of the honor as all three also received the same recognition for the fall 2007 season.

"These 12 student-athletes exemplify the NCAA Division II philosophy of balance between academics and athletics by excelling in both areas," stated GLIAC Commissioner Tom Brown. "Our conference, along with Meijer Incorporated, feel that it is important to recognize these hard working student-athletes for their outstanding performances in the classroom and on the field of play. The GLIAC would like to thank Meijer for their generous sponsorship of the 2008 Commissioner's Awards and for helping us acknowledge the exceptional accomplishments of this group."

Visser, who was an American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Daktronics All-America First Team pick this season, has received an official invitation to compete in the annual NCAA Division II All-Star Game, the 2009 Valero Cactus Bowl, which will be played this Friday, Jan. 9, at Javelina Stadium 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 for the second consecutive year.

This season, Visser was also tabbed as the 2008 Daktronics Super Region Three Defensive Player of the Year and chosen 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.

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.

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 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.).

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.

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