Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Before joining the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) Bulldogs program this season, the last time Jake Bscherer played in a football game was three years ago, in 2009.
"With a couple years off, my body got rested back up," Bscherer said. "I started working out pretty hard again, and I figured I might as well come back and play another year."
Before deciding to come to UMD, Bscherer played three seasons at the Division I level with the University of Wisconsin (UW).
He said his decision to come to UMD was made easier by the program's similarity to UW.
"Just the way everything is done, especially the attitude among the players," Bscherer said. "It's a winning attitude among everybody, so I'd say that's the biggest correlation between the two teams."
Now, Bscherer is partnered on the left side of the offensive line with NCAA Division II All-American guard Garth Heikkinen. Combining for more than 600 pounds, those two give senior quarterback Chase Vogler a big sense of security.
"I've gotten to know Jake the past couple of weeks when he's been up here," Vogler said. "It's really exciting because he's a great guy, and he fits within the team really well. Having him and Garth [Heikkinen] on my blind side, I feel pretty safe back there. We needed someone to replace Cory Flesch, and Jake's just the guy we were looking for. He fits in well."
"The left side of our line is big, and they're athletic," UMD offensive coordinator Curt Wiese. "They've got a good job of protecting Chase's blind side in the pocket, as have our other three guys up front. They've gelled well, played together well, and most importantly they've been consistent."
Linemen often don't get a lot of love outside the locker room, but everyone on this UMD squad knows their value.
Take running back Brian Lucas, for example, who knows exactly what the team would be without those big guys up front.
"Nothing. Negative yards, that's what we'd be," Lucas said. "They're definitely the soul of the offense."
"The offensive line is always the most underrated part of the game, I think," sophomore wide receiver Aaron Roth said. "They're the most important. You never see them in the headlines, but they're a huge part of what we do here."
For head coach Bob Nielson, bringing Bscherer to UMD was really a no-brainer considering what he could add to that front five for the Bulldogs.
"He's got experience. Like all new players, he's learning our system now," Nielson said. "We're hoping he adds some experience to that offensive line group to go along with guys like Garth Heikkinen, Tom Olson, and Grant Snowbrick, all who have played a lot for us."
Bscherer played in three bowl games during his tenure with the Badgers, but never won a NCAA Division I national title.
He'll hopefully have his shot at the NCAA Division II championship with the Bulldogs, but he did say this year is all about once again enjoying the sport of football.
"Honestly, I'm looking to have fun," Bscherer said. "That was the biggest thing coming into it. No matter what happens, go play fast and have fun. I want to enjoy my final year of eligibility."