FSU Standout Recognized For Outstanding Character & Leadership On & Off The Field

Click Here For GLIAC Jack McAvoy Award Release PDF

A Ferris State University football player has once again received the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC) prestigious Jack McAvoy Award as senior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville) was named as the 2008 recipient of the honor today (Dec. 8) by the league office.

Jake Visser The McAvoy award is presented annually to a single GLIAC football player who best combines outstanding character and leadership on the field, in the classroom and in the community. In addition to being a first team All-America selection both on the field and in the classroom, Visser has also been involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, volunteered at Coopersville High School along with FSU football camps and spent time reading to elementary school classrooms and visiting local hospital patients among his other numerous civic activities.

"This award recognizes the accomplishments of our well rounded student-athletes," stated GLIAC Commissioner Tom Brown. "The McAvoy Award is not just given on the basis of athletic ability, but is given to a student-athlete who has performed well in the classroom and has a strong sense of community involvement. Jake Visser is a fine example of just one of the 4,000 quality student-athletes we have in the GLIAC."

Visser becomes the fourth Bulldog player to win the award and the second in the last three years, joining former middle linebacker and 2006 recipient Mike Klobucher. Ferris' Mo Harris won the McAvoy Award in 1999 and Chris Pulliams earned the honor in 1996. In all, Ferris State has had the most overall recipients of the award (4) to date, with Michigan Tech and Saginaw Valley State in second place with two winners apiece. The award is named for former Hillsdale College director of athletics and head football coach, Jack McAvoy, who was instrumental in the founding of the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (MIFC), now known as the GLIAC.

"Jake is an outstanding person on and off the field and a highly-regarded competitor who's been a tremendous leader for our football team," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "He ranks right up there with the best we've ever had. What separates him is his personality and attitude. You won't find anyone better on or off the field."

Last week, Visser was 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 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 American Football Coaches Association 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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