College football: Ex-Badger Bscherer is Bulldogs' big man on campus

At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Minnesota Duluth guard Garth Heikkinen isn't used to looking up at people, so he was taken aback the first time tackle Jake Bscherer lined up next to him and cast a shadow.

Jake Bscherer
Minnesota Duluth offensive tackle Jake Bscherer runs through a drill during a practice at Malosky Stadium. (News Tribune file photo)

At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Minnesota Duluth guard Garth Heikkinen isn't used to looking up at people, so he was taken aback the first time tackle Jake Bscherer lined up next to him and cast a shadow.

Bscherer is 6-foot-6, 310 pounds.

A former offensive lineman at NCAA Division I Wisconsin, Bscherer has teamed with Heikkinen to give the Bulldogs a dominating left side to their offensive line going into today's Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game at Concordia-St. Paul.

UMD is averaging 262.5 rushing yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry, with some of the biggest runs coming off that left side in last week's 38-16 home victory over Winona State.

"The difference between Division I and Division II isn't quite as big as everyone thinks," Bscherer said. "The guys might not be quite as big or quite as fast at this level, but at the end of the day, it's still football. Your technique and everything else is the same."


At 24, Bscherer isn't your typical DII student-athlete.

"I'm a super duper senior," Bscherer said, laughing.

According to UMD sports information, Bscherer was the top-ranked Wisconsin player and fourth-ranked offensive tackle in the country by coming out of Sturgeon Bay (Wis.) High School, on the Door Peninsula north of Green Bay, in 2006.

Bscherer played as a true freshman for the Badgers that fall, but he was in a backup role as a sophomore before he took a junior redshirt in 2008. He started six games in 2009 but appeared relegated to a backup role as a senior in 2010, so he didn't go out, thereby saving one year of eligibility.

"I didn't think it was cool just to be a Wisconsin Badger. I wanted to play," Bscherer said. "The other tackle was 330 pounds, and that's where they wanted me. I started the season over 300, but camp was intense and it was impossible to keep the weight on, no matter how much I ate. To be honest, I was broke down. My body needed a break from football."

Bscherer originally looked at transferring to Southern Illinois, where he became familiar with current UMD defensive coordinator John Steger. Then Bscherer worked a couple of years in the Twin Cities in insurance while he took online classes to finish his degree at Wisconsin in agriculture business management. He missed football, and suddenly the best option became UMD, where he was accepted into graduate school.

Bscherer had a familiarity with the Bulldogs through his cousin Dan McCarty, a former college football coach who received his master's degree from UMD.

"I never really looked anywhere else. UMD was the place," Bscherer said. "I really like the town. There are a lot of things here that remind me of back home, except on a much bigger scale."


Refreshed, he started fall camp in shape and ready to compete for a starting spot.

So far, so good.

"Jake had the advantage of having starting experience at the college level, and not only that, it was at the exact place where we needed it," UMD coach Bob Nielson said.

Suddenly a UMD offensive line that graduated three starters has remained a strength as the Bulldogs' top-ranked rushing attack hasn't missed a beat.

Off the field, meanwhile, Bscherer has endeared himself to his teammates. On Friday night he went up the North Shore for an all-you-can-eat fish fry, joking afterward that his weight might be up to 315 pounds.

"I'm a really, really big fan of Jake Bscherer," Heikkinen said. "Sometimes you get those DI transfers who think they're coming down a couple levels, but Jake has been a really down-to-earth guy. We quickly became friends. He's not just a talented football player, but he is a bright guy and a quick learner. He understands what it takes to win and be successful. UMD has added a great player and a good guy."

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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