St. John’s tackle Ben Bartch became the first Division III player taken in five years in the NFL draft.
Bartch was chosen Saturday in the fourth round, 116th overall, by Jacksonville. He’s the first MIAC player taken since 2003.
Bartch, a 6-6, 309-pounder, weighed about 75 pounds less just a couple of years ago when he moved from tight end. His two-year ascension since captured the attention of NFL scouts. It started nearly every morning with a strange concoction.
To add weight, Bartch loaded a blender — five days per week — with seven scrambled eggs, “a big tub” of cottage cheese, quick grits, peanut butter, a banana and Gatorade.
“Throw it all in and plug my nose,” Bartch said last week. “I’d gag sometimes, but that’s what you have to do.”
On a Saturday teleconference, Bartch was asked about the shake and said, “I didn’t realize it was going to blow up. It was just a tool I used in my regime for putting on mass. I wanted really good proteins and to be smart about it.
“I didn’t want to get fat. I ate clean the rest of the day. That was my big-calorie shake.”
Bartch was invited to the Senior Bowl, and impressed NFL personnel with a strong week of practice. He injured a knee that week, however, and didn’t play in the game; he also missed working out at the combine.
“[The Senior Bowl] was definitely a proving week,” Bartch said. “I walked in like if I was just as good if not better than some of the other guys. That’s a good attitude to have.”
Despite the injury, the Jaguars saw enough to make him an early Day 3 pick.
Jaguars Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz said the Jaguars consider Bartch a player who still “has a lot of upside.”
“He played very well and held his own at the Senior Bowl, and it wasn’t too big for him,” said Mark Ellenz, Jacksonville’s director of college scouting in a Saturday teleconference. “[Bartch] is highly committed. He wants to play in the NFL and has a passion about it. He’s going to do whatever it takes.
“He played Division III football, but it’s a very good program that they’re in. But the athleticism we really liked. The kid’s a really smart kid and he’s competitive.”
Bartch trained before the draft with Zane Beadles, who played nine years in the NFL as an offensive tackle. Through his agency, Rep1 Sports, Beadle trained daily with Bartch this winter in Irvine, Calif., where they focused on technique and film study.
“No disrespect to anyone else,” Bartch said last week, “but I did gain a lot of lessons from going to a small school and having to kind of figure a lot of this stuff out on my own. But I wasn’t alone. I did have a lot of really good resources at St. John’s.”