A dream come true.
That's how Saint John's University senior offensive lineman Ben Bartch (Dayton, Ore./Blanchet Catholic) felt after he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 10th pick of the fourth round (No. 116 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday, April 25.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity and excited to start working for the Jacksonville Jaguars," Bartch said. "My faith, family, coaches and dedication to the game helped me reach this goal, and they will continue to throughout my life. The hard work and commitment from my Johnnie teammates also made this opportunity possible. I can't wait to represent SJU at the highest level."
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Bartch is the 10th Johnnie (see full list below) to be drafted in the NFL, and the first since the Minnesota Vikings selected defensive lineman Kurt Wachtler in 1974 (15th round).
"We would like to congratulate Ben on being chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL Draft," SJU head coach Gary Fasching '81 said. "Ben has worked extremely hard over his four years at Saint John's to have the opportunity to play on Sundays. His dedication to the sport of football, his dedication to our strength and conditioning program, and his spirited approach to playing the game will serve him well as he gets to pursue his dream of playing pro football.
"This is a great day for Ben and our football program. We are all very proud of Ben, he is a great young man and has represented Saint John's and our football program tremendously well. We look forward to watching him play for the Jaguars."
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Bartch was the lone NCAA Division III attendee at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala. Although he did not play in the game, Bartch received rave reviews during the three days of practices leading up to the event.
He attended the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in late February, but did not participate in the drills or measurements due to the injury suffered during the final Senior Bowl practice.
A D3football.com first-team and Associated Press second-team All-American in 2019, Bartch earned the MIAC Mike Stam Award as the conference's top defensive or offensive lineman and started all 14 games at left tackle this season.
He made 27 straight starts at the position since he switched from tight end during the 2018 preseason. Through a combination of hard work in the weight room and repeated consumption of a now-famous (or infamous) protein shake recipe (ingredients include seven scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, quick grits, peanut butter, bananas and Gatorade), Bartch gained over 50 pounds and started on the line's left side immediately.
Bartch played tight end his first two seasons as a Johnnie and caught four passes for 43 yards (10.8 avg.) and a touchdown in eight games in 2017. His athleticism and size (6-foot-6, 308 pounds) attracted attention from all 32 NFL teams to visit Collegeville last fall.
Off the field, Bartch was honored during halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 as a member of the 22-man Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.
-Bartch was the 14th offensive tackle* selected in the 2020 NFL Draft and the third non-FBS draftee. Safety Kyle Dugger from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) was picked by the New England Patriots at No. 37 and safety Jeremy Chinn from FCS Southern Illinois went to the Carolina Panthers at No. 64.
*Robert Hunt (Louisiana-Lafayette) was a right tackle the past two seasons but is projected at guard for the Miami Dolphins (pick No. 39), as is Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State) for the Baltimore Ravens (No. 106).
-Of the Johnnies' now 10 NFL draftees, nine were defensive or offensive linemen. Only the program's first, end Red Maenhout in 1949, was not a lineman. Maenhout was a freshman at SJU in 1942 and returned from World War II to play for the Johnnies from 1946-48. He was All-MIAC as a senior in 1948 and also won the MIAC title in the shot put in 1947.
-Bartch is the 21st student-athlete to be drafted into the NFL from NCAA Division III since 1990 and the 52nd overall with ties to the MIAC.
-The first NFL Draft in 1936 consisted of nine rounds and increased to 20 rounds in 1939. The league expanded the draft to 30 rounds in 1943, reduced it to 25 rounds in 1949 and went back to 30 rounds in 1950. The NFL Draft cut down to 20 rounds in 1960, to 17 rounds in 1967 and down to 12 rounds in 1977. The draft narrowed to eight rounds in 1993 and then to seven, the current format, in 1994.
Johnnies Drafted in the NFL
1949 - end Red Maenhout, New York Bulldogs (12th round-No. 113)
1955 - tackle Dick Coy, Chicago Cardinals (19th round-No. 218)
1957 - guard Chuck Froehle, Baltimore Colts (19th round-No. 222)
1963 - offensive tackle Tom McIntyre, Minnesota Vikings (18th round-No. 240)
1964 - offensive tackle John McDowell, Green Bay Packers (9th round-No. 125)
1965 - defensive tackle Paul Labinski, Minnesota Vikings (16th round-No. 219)
1967 - guard Fred Cremer, Minnesota Vikings (12th round-No. 296)
1972 - defensive end Steve Setzler, San Francisco 49ers (12th round-No. 304)
1974 - defensive tackle Kurt Wachtler, Minnesota Vikings (15th round-No. 389)
2020 - offensive tackle Ben Bartch, Jacksonville Jaguars (4th round-No. 116)