As we’ve discussed earlier, Bills fans are pretty happy with the team’s draft this year. First-round selection Marcell Dareus is unquestionably the star of the show, and with good reason. He’s going to start right away and should be a productive player in the NFL for a very long time.
However, the man who has really captured the imagination of the Bills’ fan base is near-400-pound seventh-round selection Michael Jasper. Jasper was a complete mystery man headed into the draft. (Scouts Inc. didn’t even have him listed on their complete list of 2011 prospects.) I’ll admit I’d never even heard the name until I saw it roll by on ESPN’s screen Saturday afternoon.
But now I’ve seen this massive man, and seen the video that shows his incredible power, speed, and agility. I’m insanely curious – what’s this guy’s story? How in the world did he end up at tiny NAIA school Bethel University? Here’s what I found out.
Jasper didn’t start out at Bethel. He actually bounced around quite a bit before settling in at Bethel. He originally signed with Ole Miss out of high school, but opted out when then-Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe was fired. Jasper wound up at 1-AA/FCS member UT-Martin, where he was a two-year starter (at defensive tackle as a freshman and right tackle as a sophomore). Jasper then transferred back into 1-A/FBS, redshirting for a year at Middle Tennessee State. He never actually played for the Blue Raiders, transferring to Bethel for his final two years. At Bethel he bounced from offense to defense as the team needed, playing both defensive tackle and guard.
His current size is breathtaking, but he’s actually slimmed down quite a bit. At his peak at January of this year, Jasper tipped the scales at an mind-boggling 448 pounds. (He played his senior season in the 420-430 range.)
The Bills found Jasper and have actually been in contact with him for a while. One Buffalo scout in particular (Matt Hand), has been “stalking” Jasper for nearly a year. The Bills asked Jasper to get below 400 pounds, and Jasper is supposedly down to 375. The Bills rewarded him for that hard work by making him their last selection in the draft.
When his weight is under control, Jasper is a pretty incredible athlete. He earned four varsity letters each in football, basketball, and track and field in high school. For his high school football squad, Jasper started at defensive line, guard, fullback, and KICKER (!). (I would have loved to see that.)
Currently, despite being 375 pounds, Jasper can dunk a basketball with both hands and doing a standing long jump of over 9 feet.
It should be really fun to follow Jasper on his NFL journey if he can compete at all in training camp. If he makes the team, I think the Bills might have a new fan favorite.
For more on Jasper, check out his personal website.