One Minnesotan among nation’s top receivers; another made fans cry

Jake Breitbach, a former quarterback, made an unexpected transition to wide receiver when he joined the Gustavus Adolphus program in 2020. Despite never having played the position before, Breitbach quickly adapted and has become one of the best wide receivers in Division III.

Breitbach’s versatility and athleticism caught the attention of Gustavus’s coaching staff. They knew they couldn’t keep such a talented player on the bench as a backup quarterback. So, they asked him to switch positions.

“I was shocked because I had never played receiver before,” Breitbach admitted. But he embraced the challenge and proved to be a quick learner.

Now, Breitbach leads Division III in receptions per game, ranks second in receiving yards per game, and is tied for eighth in touchdown catches. He had another outstanding performance over the weekend, with 209 receiving yards in a dominant win against Macalester.

“It’s been amazing to learn a new position at this stage in my career,” Breitbach said. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 197 pounds, he has found success through hard work and dedication. While he had knowledge of the routes from his time as a quarterback, running them as a receiver was a completely different experience. It took some time to adjust, but his natural talent shone through.

Breitbach’s career has been marked by adaptability. He overcame a torn ACL in his left knee during his junior year of high school, fearing it would sideline him for his senior football season. However, he made an impressive recovery and was ready to play when the season started.

Despite initially joining Gustavus as a quarterback, Breitbach found himself primarily playing receiver in the 2021 season. However, he still served as backup quarterback to Michael Veldman, getting some reps at the position during practice. As a freshman, he even played a few games as quarterback after Veldman got injured.

“It was a lot to handle, learning receiver stuff while also trying to stay on top of quarterback,” Breitbach said. “The playbook was more limited when I was in there.”

Ultimately, Breitbach made the decision to become a full-time wide receiver. He realized that receiver was where he had the most potential and the highest ceiling. His transition was aided by his background as a multisport athlete, which honed his hand-eye coordination. He also received guidance from his coaches and teammates, helping him navigate the intricacies of playing the receiver position.

To further his development, Breitbach studied NFL receivers and learned from trial and error. Now a senior, he plans to use his extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic and return to Gustavus for another season.

“It was motivating to think about how good I could get if I invested a lot of time, energy, and training,” Breitbach said.

He continues to surpass expectations each week, proving that his potential is limitless.


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